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Guest Post: Jeff Finkelstein of Customer Paradigm: Don’t lock your door and leave the window open

A guest post on security from Customer Paradigm

At eBoundHost, we work with a variety of developers, designers, and security consultants to help our customers make the most of their web presences beyond the server environment.  Jeff Finkelstein of Customer Paradigm is a top Magento and WordPress developer that has helped countless clients secure their sites.  He has some pointed about the importance of patching your e commerce software.

If you run a Magento site, you probably take credit cards for payment.  It’s no secret that hackers want to steal your customers’ credit card  information, so that they make fraudulent purchases or sell the credit card numbers online.

Most eCommerce platforms  like Magento don’t actually store and save credit card information. When the user is in the cart, entering their credit card information, the credit card data is not stored on the server.  Rather, it’s encrypted and securely sent to the credit card company.

If the credit card number, expiration date, security code, name on the card, billing address on file and a few other data points are accepted (i.e. the person is not over their spending limit for the amount you’re trying to charge), then the credit card company will send back an authorization code, letting you know the credit card was accepted for the purchase amount.

That’s how it’s supposed to work. But, if someone was able to get into the code of your site, then  they can inject a little bit of code that watches and records the credit card information, then sends it off to a nefarious person.

Usually the attack is not against the core code of the eCommerce site, but a security loophole somewhere else.

Sometimes attackers are able to gain entry to a site because there is a security vulnerability that should have been patched, but hasn’t;  an insecure plugin, an out-of-date extension, or a misconfigured setting that isn’t even connected to your eCommerce site.  The main components of your eCommerce site might be very secure.  But if another portion of your site is not, it’s like leaving the side window of your house wide open and leaving on vacation.  Sure, the front door is locked, but there’s another, very easy way into the house.

If your eCommerce software developer (Magento, WooCommerce, etc.) releases a patch, it’s extremely important to install it.  Because when a security patch is sent out, the first thing hackers do is reverse engineer it to see how a site could be vulnerable if that patch isn’t applied.

If you patch your site, you’ll be in better shape.  If you don’t, the security patch is now an evildoer’s how-to guide for attacking your site.  This means failing to patch your site in a timely fashion is doubly dangerous.  Once the patch is released, unpatched sites are at even higher risk of being compromised.

We recommend using a version control system such as  git or subversion on your server, so that you can easily see if any key files have been changed.  You can also use it to run an automated scan for new, changed or removed files – key warning signs that someone has been tampering with your site.  

For example, on a Magento site, I know that if the CC.php file in the core code has been changed, the site is likely to have been attacked – this is one of many points to check for possible problems.

Bottom line: keep up to date with patches, and use a version control system to let you know if anything new has been added to the site.

I hope this helps!  My team is here to secure your site ahead of the upcoming holiday – you can call me at 303.473.4400 or visit http://www.CustomerParadigm.com/Magento for more information.

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