Data theft is on the rise. Globally nearly 30,000 websites are hacked each day. When it comes to eCommerce stores, data security becomes top priority as users will be logging-in with their personal details and transact using their banking credentials.
WooCommerce is the most popular plugin for the WordPress CMS platform.
Its popularity attracts all sorts of cyber-criminals making it one of the most exploited CMS platforms in the World.
However, it doesn’t suggest that WooCommerce is not secure; often-time it could happen due to the user’s lack of security awareness.
In either scenario it is best for store-owners to implement security measures on their website to prevent data breaches.
In this blog we are going to discuss top security best practices and a list of security checklists you can refer to when developing your WooCommerce store.
Top 5 Reasons to Secure Your WooCommerce Store
- Protect Customer Information:
When shopping on your WooCommerce store, your customers enter their personal and financial information suggesting that they trust your website.
This becomes a responsibility for WooCommerce store-owners to maintain that trust by employing unbreachable security measures in order to protect customers information from theft, fraud, and more such security breaches.
- Avoiding Website Downtime:
Security attacks and data breaches cause store websites to go down. This can cause a domino effect resulting in lost sales, lost customers and eventually decreasing your SEO rankings and affecting brand image. All this can be prevented by employing suitable security measures giving you and your customers peace of mind.
- Prevent Malware Attacks:
Malware attracts usually happen if your store already has security vulnerabilities and a user uploads infected documents or files on your store. It can cause an array of issues such as spam, redirects to questionable websites, and data theft.
- Comply with Data Privacy Regulations:
Many countries have their own data privacy guidelines and complying with these regulations goes a long way in preventing legal consequences if customers encounter data breaches.
- Project Brand Reputation:
A security breach on your ecommerce store can permanently impact your brand reputation. If customers can’t trust their data with you they are more likely to do their business elsewhere.
Top Red Flags to Identify Possible Data Breaches on Your Store?
- Suspicious activity:
Check your store for any unusual activities such as unauthorized changes to your store’s code or content.
- Strange URLs:
If your store redirects to strange URLs it could mean that your store has vulnerabilities. It demands ASAP actions from store-owners to fix these security vulnerabilities.
- Unusual Pattern in Store Traffic:
Check web analytics to see if your store experienced unusually high traffic. As well as check if there are any suspicious shopping patterns for users.
- Search Engine Warnings:
Check if search engines such as Google have flagged your website for malware and suspicious content. These warnings could indicate that your store has been breached and is being used to distribute spam.
- Outdated Plugins:
Oftentimes plugins, that are outdated, contain security vulnerabilities and could lead to a data breach. These malicious plugins can be exploited to push malware and spyware to your store which could be able to steal sensitive information from your customers.
- Shady eMail activity:
Check if your customers have received shady messages and spams from your email accounts.
If there have been any unusual login attempts it could suggest that your email accounts could have been hacked and the hackers might have access to your store and they could be stealing sensitive information about your customers.
12 Checklist of Security Measures for Your WooCommerce Store
1. Keep WooCommerce and plugins updated:
WordPress releases regular software updates to improve site performance and security. These updates also protect your site from cyber attacks.
Updating the WordPress version is one of the simplest ways to improve WordPress security. Nearly 50% of WordPress sites are still running older versions of WordPress, making them more vulnerable to security threats.
How to check if you have the latest WordPress version:
- Navigate to the Admin panel and go to Dashboard → Updates.
- Scroll down to Plugins and Themes sections and check the list of themes and plugins ready for updates.
- Click Update Plugins.
2. Keep WP-Admin login credentials secure:
A common mistake users make is that they use easy-to-guess usernames such as ‘Admin,’ ‘test’ etc. This makes it easier for the site to be at the higher risk of brute force attacks.
3. Setup Safelist and Blocklist for the Admin page:
Restrict access to your login page by configuring the site’s .htaccess file.
4. Use trusted WordPress Themes:
Avoid using nulled WordPress themes. These themes are basically a replica of premium themes and are sold at a lower price to attract users. And it’s more likely that they have been inserted with malicious codes.
We suggest downloading themes from its official repository or from trusted developers. You could also check third-party themes in theme marketplaces such as ThemeForest.
5. Install SSL certificates:
Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is a data transfer protocol that encrypts data exchange between two parties making it difficult for unauthorized personnel to access information exchanged.
SSL certificates also boost the WordPress site’s search engine rankings. Websites using SSL will use HTTPS instead of HTTP making them easily identifiable.
6. Remove Unused WordPress Themes and Plugins:
Keeping unused WordPress themes and plugins can be harmful as they most-likely are outdated and make them susceptible to cyberattacks.
Steps to Delete Unused Plugin:
- Navigate to Plugins → Installed Plugins
- In the following page you will see the list of all installed plugins. Click Delete under the plugin’s name.
Steps to Delete Unused Theme:
- Navigate to Admin Dashboard, go to Appearance → Themes.
- Click on the theme you want to delete
- A pop-up window will appear with theme details. Select the themes you want to delete then click the Delete button on the bottom-right corner.
7. Migrate to a reliable hosting provider:
Putting a ton of effort on web security won’t matter if your hosting provider is prone to cyber-attacks. We suggest you opt for a reliable hosting provider that can guarantee the safety and security of your web apps.
If you think your current web hosting company is not secure you should consider the following points to choose the right hosting partner for your WooCommerce website.
- Type of web hosting:
Shared and WordPress hosting types have more security vulnerabilities because of resource sharing. On the other hand select a web hosting service provider that offers VPS or dedicated hosting that isolates your data from others.
A good hosting service provider will have rock-solid security and protection against cyber-attacks. Moreover they will update their software and hardware on a regular basis to keep their services up-to-date.
The hosting service provider should have automatic backups and security tools for preventing malware. In a worst case scenario you will be able to backup your data if your website is compromised.
Choosing a hosting provider who can provide support any time is a must-have feature.
8. Disable edit files from Admin:
Another security measure you can implement is disable the Edit files from the WordPress admin. In-case a hacker gains access to your WordPress admin you don’t want him to get easy access to the files. You can disable the edit option on files for all users.
9. Disable Pingbacks and Trackbacks:
You will not need this feature for your WooCommerce store as it could be exploited to carry out low-level DDoS attacks.
10. Enable Two-Factor Authentication:
Enable two-factor authentication to add an extra layer of security to your WooCommerce store. This requires users to enter a code generated by the app or sent to their mobile devices via messaging.
To enable 2FA on your WordPress site, you need to install a plugin as well as install Google Authenticator on your mobile devices.
11. Backup Your Store on a Regular Basis:
Create regular backups for your WooCommerce store so that you can restore data in case of data breach.
12. Enable SSL certificate:
Enabling SSL certificate on your WooCommerce store is a must-have security protocol. Here are a few reasons why you should enable SSL certificates.
- Data encryption:
An SSL certificate encrypts data transmitted between servers and users. It ensures that the data, such as customer information and payment details, are protected from unauthorized access
- Website authentication:
An SSL certificate verifies the identity of the website to ensure that the customers are communicating with the right website.
- Compliance with regulations:
Some information security standards such as PCI DSS require websites to have SSL certificates to safely carry out transactions. Failure to comply could result in penalties and fines.
The aforementioned checklist is created for beginners who want to set-up security measures on their WooCommerce store. If you think you are facing any security issues or feel like your website is at risk you can follow these checklists to ensure that your website is secure and protected.
BeePlugin is a leading provider of WooCommerce plugins. We develop plugins meeting all web security standards. Our plugins accentuate WooCommerce websites by increasing store capabilities and features.