As e-commerce continues to grow globally, the risk of fraud and security breaches also increases. WooCommerce sites have unique security needs, and it is crucial to protect your visitors and business by implementing key security protocols. While there is no 100% guarantee when it comes to security, the following measures can help safeguard your online store.
1. Implement Server-Level Security Measures
Your hosting server is the first line of defense when it comes to website security. Even if you have the best security plugins and measures on your WordPress site, a breach on the hosting level can render those tools useless. Therefore, it is essential to choose a hosting option that offers security measures on the server-level, such as disk write protections and limitations.
Disk write protection limits the processes that can write to disk, making it harder for hackers to exploit theme or plugin vulnerabilities. Disk write limitations log any attempts to write to the disk, which can help detect malicious activity. Additionally, an SSL certificate is now a requirement for all sites, and it is mandatory for WooCommerce sites to comply with PCI security standards. Therefore, ensure that your SSL certificate is configured and renewed with your hosting company.
Lastly, it is crucial to keep your hosting server and website updated to the latest PHP version. Older versions of PHP often have security vulnerabilities that are no longer patched. WordPress now encourages website owners to stay on top of these updates by notating outdated PHP versions in the WordPress Site Health check.
2. Stay on Top of Plugin & Security Updates
Regular plugin updates and staying up-to-date with WordPress core releases are critical security steps. Outdated plugins or themes are a common source of infection for hacked sites. In 2019, Sucuri reported that 56% of hacked sites were outdated at the time of infection.
For WooCommerce sites, it is vital to stay on top of the latest updates for WooCommerce as they often include security patches and maintenance fixes. Delaying updates can leave your e-commerce site exposed to security risks. To avoid potential issues, perform all plugin updates in a staging area or production environment first before implementing them on your live site.
It is also possible that one of your installed plugins may be abandoned by its developer, posing a security and performance risk. The WordFence plugin can be a great resource for detecting any removed plugins that are a security risk.
3. Set up Security Monitoring
While hosting level security and regular maintenance reduce the opportunities for hackers, it still won’t cover all the bases. New threats constantly emerge, some of which are automated attacks on WordPress and WooCommerce sites. Therefore, consider setting up 24/7 security monitoring on your WooCommerce site to detect any malware or breaches to the site.
WordFence and Sucuri offer malware scanners and will alert your team of any suspicious activity. Paid services can also include automatic removal of malware, which can assist in quickly cleaning up the site after any security issues. Additionally, minimize the number of WordPress administrator accounts and review them every few months to remove any previous employees or old vendors who should no longer have access to the site.
For an e-commerce site where any downtime can impact sales, consider additional security with a web application firewall (WAF) through services such as Cloudflare or Sucuri. This can protect the site against malicious bot traffic or a DDoS attack, which is intended to take your server or website down by flooding it with bad requests.
4. PCI-DSS Compliance & Anti-Fraud Measures
Every website that processes credit card transactions must comply with PCI-DSS – Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. These global standards were established to help reduce credit card fraud. Use a secure payment gateway such as Stripe, PayPal, or Authorize.Net to comply with these requirements.
WooCommerce supports these standards by never storing credit card details within the site. If you are setting up your own e-commerce site, never set up a basic form that stores credit card information within the site. Instead, use one of the best WooCommerce gateway plugins for a safer choice.
Unfortunately, even if you are following these standards and using a secure payment gateway, your online store can be negatively impacted by e-commerce fraud. The WooCommerce Anti-Fraud extension is a great resource for detecting fraudulent transactions. The plugin labels each transaction with a risk score and can be configured to automatically cancel or pause suspicious transactions. Protect your site against automated bots that could be creating fake accounts and guest orders on the site by setting up Google recaptcha on all of the WooCommerce checkout forms.
5. Take Daily Database Backups
Having a backup of your WordPress site and database is vital in case of a security breach. When a site is hacked, you’ll typically go through a clean-up process and remove all of the malware and infected files. Unfortunately, there are some cases where a site is hacked so badly that critical information and files are lost in the process. In this scenario, having a clean backup of the site is vital and means that you don’t have to rebuild the entire site.
Choose a hosting environment that offers an automatic daily backup of the site on the server level. If this option is not available, use a WordPress plugin to take automatic backups of the site on a daily or weekly basis. Ensure that older backups are only stored for a certain period of time to avoid increasing the database size of your site, leading to higher hosting costs.
Be careful when automatically restoring a backup for WooCommerce sites because it will overwrite any transactions that came in since the backup was taken. A skilled web development team can make sure to properly use the files if you are facing a security issue.
In conclusion, implementing these key security protocols can help protect your WooCommerce site from potential security breaches and fraud. While no security measure is foolproof, taking these steps can help safeguard your online store and build trust with your web visitors.