In the last few weeks, there has been a lot of buzz around the cybersecurity of open-source ecommerce sites. This has gained greater significance against the backdrop of the increased popularity of ecommerce since the pandemic. In a phase of growth, online sellers might not notice cybersecurity issues that creep in without warning. But these threats have led to a decrease in privacy, which was deemed an essential parameter to shop online by 76% of customers in a survey conducted two years ago.

Earlier this month, we saw critical vulnerability attacks on a leading open-source ecommerce platform. The intensity of the attack made them forcefully update a patch to fix all the affected accounts. Millions of vulnerable stores were also patched as a precautionary step. In this blog, we'll discuss this problem and learn how Zoho Commerce ensures the protection of your business against such attacks.

When data gets compromised in attacks, it can have an impact at several levels. If an online store gets affected, the exposed information could be specific to what that site is storing, which could include order, customer, and administrative information, as was seen in the recent incident. As merchants, you are right in feeling that such a breach cannot be underestimated and neglected. To address this issue, it helps to understand the nature of such attacks. The above-mentioned attack on a renowned open-source platform was done using an SQL injection attack. Let's look at the working principle behind this attack to learn how we can better protect our ecommerce businesses.

What is an injection attack?

An SQL injection attack is used by hackers to collect your customers' valuable credentials. Attackers interfere with the queries sent by the application system to the database, allowing them to gather the information that they would otherwise not be able to access. They will also be able to modify or delete this data, which will permanently affect the working of your application.

Effects of an injection attack

If the damage was the intention behind the attack, hackers can escalate the problem to expose the backend servers. In such a scenario, denial of service by the application is also possible. This means that none of your customers would be able to access the application. All login data and credentials would be lost. Sometimes, the customers would be denied to use the app after logging in.

If their intention is to breach data, the attackers can collect unauthorized sensitive data, which could include credentials, credit card information, and other such personal details.

Sometimes it takes an organization several months to realize they have been exposed. This happens when the attackers hack into the organizational system via a back door, which makes the organization susceptible and vulnerable to future attacks.

How to prevent injection attacks?

Let's look at a list of some simple ways to prevent injection attacks.

  • Injection attackers target simple queries, which are easy to hack. To avoid this, use queries that are built with multiple parameters. Such queries are called Parameterized queries.

  • White-listing data allows only a selected type of data to pass through a database query. This permitted data is captured directly into tables. Also, modifying the application logic during quarterly updates would be a good method to avoid attacks.

  • Ecommerce-building platforms help protect the user's sensitive information as they are hidden behind multiple layers of code. This makes these platforms less prone to hacking.

  • Enable logs and include AI agents to detect intrusions. Over time, detecting and tracing vulnerabilities becomes easier.

However, if these solutions seem technically challenging for you, you can opt for safe and secure platforms that have a ready-to-use structure.

Zoho Commerce as an alternative

Ready-to-use ecommerce-building platforms like our Zoho Commerce are far safer than open-source platforms as they ensure the safety of customers' personal data. Let's see how they make this happen:

  • Firstly, cracking the algorithm and entering the system is difficult for hackers as the protective layers are extremely complex and there are only limited open areas that would be accessible to unauthorized persons.

  • For every transaction happening within Zoho Commerce, a thorough analysis is done using the IP address and bank and payment details. This way we can notify merchants in case of fraudulent activities.

  • Double authentication and the use of OAuth (an authentication app) helps to secure the system.

  • All data is captured directly on the cloud. This makes the loss of data impossible.

  • Sanitization (cleaning or cleansing) of input data happens by default. Only validated inputs that fall within the whitelisted parameter will be allowed to be captured by the application.

  • The passwords you use to access Zoho services are stored in a non-reversible encryption scheme. We use bcrypt hashing algorithm with per-user-salt.

  • Zoho Commerce regularly conducts automated and manual penetration testing efforts. We use a combination of certified third-party scanning tools and in-house tools to scan codes and analyze threats and loopholes for hackers.

  • Zoho Commerce is PCI DSS compliant. PCI compliance is required for all merchants and service providers that store, transmit, or process payment card information. Getting compliant with the PCI DSS will help reduce the chances of fraud and identity theft.

Keeping it secure

With digital transactions on the rise, dealing with fraudulent activities is a new challenge that every ecommerce business will have to face. Prevention and preparation are the only ways to tackle cyber theft. As governments become stringent over privacy laws, cybercrime legislation has become rigorous worldwide. It is the duty of organizations to ensure the safety and privacy of their customers.


Commerce Insights is a blog maintained by Zoho Commerce for ecommerce merchants. We discuss topics relating to product features, getting started with ecommerce, and marketing ideas for businesses.
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