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9 types of e-commerce security threats you should be aware of


Oleg Menteshashvili




Mar 11, 2021

The growing volume of security issues in e-commerce is the logical consequence of the rise of e-commerce provoked by the pandemic. In 2020, e-commerce faced an unprecedented number of online transactions , which were almost the only way to purchase goods or services during the lockdown.

Now, the global economy is on the way to recovery, however, this does not mean that fraudulent activity will slow down. Online scammers have already tested a lot of successful fraudulent practices, so in 2021, the issue of protecting your online store from illegal activity remains relevant.

Let’s get started by discovering the basic e-commerce security threats, and the ways to successfully cope with them. 

Main types of e-commerce security threats

The main types of security threats have one crucial thing in common. This is the desire of fraudsters to gain access to either your business data and information about your customers or illegally taking over your users' money and the goods of your store.

Very often, the first target smoothly flows into the second, which means that your anti-fraudulent defense must be comprehensive and technically strong.

#1 e-commerce security threat — payment fraud

Payment fraud is one of the common security threats that covers not only the sphere of online retail but also banking. Credit card fraud and identity theft are the most popular forms of payment fraud.

Identity theft often precedes credit card fraud since in this case, the fraudsters get started by collecting all the essential information about the users using social media, password hacking, and parsing tools, as well as fraudulent SMS messages. 

When the “portrait” of the user is ready, they get access to card credentials and may use it for online transactions, easily passing by security measures like email or phone confirmations.

As for the ways to deal with this e-commerce threat, AI and ML-powered fraud detection and prevention tools turn out to be the most effective solutions. They are able to learn the usual patterns of customer behavior, the purchases they make, the IP they use, and the sums they spend.

This data allows for finding anomalies in online behavior and accurately suggesting whether each transaction in your store is legal or fraudulent. 

#2 e-commerce security threat — malware

Malicious software is still on top of the security issues in e-commerce. What’s more, it may take different forms, for example:

  • Ransomware. It refers to the special software that steals and blocks access to the company’s data. The fraudster may promise to return access to the information in exchange for payment but there are no guarantees that business data will ever be restored.
  • Back door apps are the solutions that allow for passing by some of the security measures. 
  • Viruses are standard security threats that are created with the aim of infecting the system, getting access to data, and freely collecting it.

The usage of firewall, antivirus, and password protection software is essential when dealing with this type of security threat. 

#3 e-commerce security threat — Misconfigurations of web and mobile apps

When a web or mobile application for e-commerce is created, following the best security practices is as important as providing your customers with a great user experience and offering top-notch products or services.

But sometimes technical mistakes happen, making your software vulnerable to the main e-commerce security issues.

Fortunately, preventing misconfigurations and eliminating e-commerce security threats and risks are quite possible in the development stage.

How you can prevent them:

  • Firstly, you should hire a reliable development vendor with experience in e-commerce project creation and security. 
  • Secondly, the Quality Assurance process will also help you to find the weak points in your application and fix them before the app is launched.

#4 e-commerce security threat — DDOS attacks

Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attacks are well-known e-commerce threats whose aim is to crash your website by flooding it with a large number of requests coming from untraceable IP addresses.

The likelihood of such attacks increases during peak periods of the online store, for example, during sales like Black Friday or Cyber Monday.

The only way to prevent the consequences of such an attack is to be well prepared. For instance, you can develop a Denial of Service Response Plan to help quickly get your infrastructure back to work or consider DDoS-as-a-Service.

This service will allow you to combine the power of your server, third-party server, and cloud to distribute the load and prevent hackers from taking out the entire system.

#5 e-commerce security threat — bad bots

The online traffic generated by bad bots reached 24.5% of all Internet traffic in 2019, and the majority comes from the US. Being invisible, these tech solutions are quite dangerous for businesses since one might not even know that the bad bot is doing its job on the website.

There is even the concept of a “bad bot as a service” meaning that anyone may pay for using this solution for personal and illegal purposes.

What’s more, they may be used for different purposes, for example, price and content scraping, account creation and takeover, and credit card fraud.

To protect your online store from e-commerce security issues caused by bad bot attacks, use captcha, block outdated browsers and proxy servers, monitor failed login attempts, and stay updated on the sources of your website traffic. 

#6 e-commerce security threat — customer journey hijacking

Customer journey hijacking refers to the usage of third-party advertisements in the browsers of your customers. Sometimes, these ads may lead to actual existing companies’ websites, or it can be the tricks of your competitors. They often take the form of a pop-up, offering a great deal that may even exist and be legal.

However, the presence of unauthorized ads may significantly lower your level of sales, spoil the overall impression from interacting with your website, plus this method is also used for e-commerce fraud.

Thus, to protect your business from this e-commerce threat, make sure to use the tools that help track customers’ behavior, and review the code of your website from time to time. 

#7 e-commerce security threat — e-skimming (magecart attack)

E-skimming is the approach that allows the fraudster to intercept the customers’ financial data in real-time. This is one of the worst e-commerce security threats

since in most cases, the customers are sure they were redirected to the right page to finalize the deal.

In this case, using antivirus protection tools, keeping your website secured and updated, as well as analyzing unfinalized deals will be effective.  

#8 e-commerce security threat — phishing

Phishing is quite an old method of getting access to users’ financial data. However, it still works and uses the users’ inattentiveness as the main trump card.

A fishing fraudulent scheme takes the form of an innocent email that is quite similar to those the users often receive for the brands they interact with. The link placed in the letter may lead to a website that is quite similar to the branded website in terms of the UI and design.

To force the user to make a purchase and thereby leave a trace of their data, the fraudsters come up with very attractive pricing for the goods that will never be delivered.

After the user completes a transaction, their financial data becomes known to the fraudsters who may use credit card credentials, phone numbers, and other personal information to make subsequent fraudulent purchases.

One of the ways to protect your business and your users from this common security threat is educating them and reminding them of the consequences of phishing. SSL Certificates which are well-established security practices are also quite effective. The Machine Learning protective solutions are also capable of tracking phishing emails. 

#9 e-commerce security threat — mobile commerce security threats

Since mobile commerce is also on the rise, there is no surprise that fraudsters pay attention to the large share of mobile shoppers. Thus, there are a lot of e-commerce security threats that directly relate to the usage of mobile devices in the shopping process.

For example, banking malware in the form of a new tap overlapping the legal payment process may appear with the aim of making the user enter his credentials. Unofficial mobile applications may also be potentially harmful - very often they are embedded with data tracking and collect features that contribute to identity theft.

To protect your users from these threats, using antivirus software on mobiles makes sense, plus you may remind them of the necessity of using official applications only downloaded right from the App Store or Play Market. Keeping your mobile applications safe and updated is also essential to prevent data breaches and leaks. 


The list of the security issues in e-commerce may be continued since online fraud is like the game of cat and mouse. New fraudulent schemes are constantly being developed in response to innovative anti-fraud solutions.

At this point, the security measures we listed along with the types of security threats are working quite effectively, and our technical team can help you secure your online store as well.

Depending on the goals of your business, we can develop an e-commerce platform following the best security and user experience practices, or offer you a custom solution to protect an existing business.

Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and blockchain-powered software have the best protective potential, and at the same time, this is the key area of our expertise. We will be happy to assist you, so contact us if you feel your e-commerce business may be at risk.

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