How to Secure Transactions By Fixing Vulnerabilities in Real Time

The e-commerce industry is a high-risk/high-reward game. Customer experience is paramount, margins rely heavily on constant access, and the slightest loss in trust can send people scrambling to competitors. In such an industry, maintaining a strong security posture around online transactions can be a challenge. Vulnerabilities within applications can expose sensitive customer data and undermine the trust that businesses work tirelessly to build. Meanwhile, when vulnerabilities are discovered, patching them often requires that functionality be turned off for a period of time. In e-commerce, every second of downtime could represent thousands of dollars lost. 

Striking a balance between keeping services up and not letting attackers jeopardize customer privacy is no easy feat. It inherently requires that engineers be able to patch vulnerabilities in real time without any lag or downtime. Luckily, Waratek’s java security platform allows organizations to do just that — making engineers’ lives a whole lot easier while improving the experience for their customers. Let’s take a look at the challenges involved in correcting vulnerabilities in the e-commerce game and how to avoid them. 

The High Cost of Downtime in E-Commerce

First and foremost, the direct financial impact of downtime is stark and immediate for an e-commerce site. Every second offline can mean thousands, if not millions, of dollars in lost sales. High-traffic periods, such as Black Friday or Cyber Monday, amplify these losses exponentially. In times like this, a site going down also sends a message of unreliability and incompetence to its customers, damaging the brand’s reputation and pushing them toward competitors.

Meanwhile, the scramble to identify and resolve the issue can disrupt normal business operations, diverting resources from other critical tasks. The cost of diagnosing the problem, implementing a fix, and potentially compensating affected customers can add up quickly. For small to medium-sized enterprises, these costs can strain budgets to their breaking points.

For e-commerce platforms dealing with sensitive customer data, downtime can have legal and compliance ramifications. Data breaches and other security incidents associated with downtime can lead to hefty fines under regulations like General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe or California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). Moreover, the legal costs associated with defending against customer lawsuits can be substantial, not to mention the long-term damage to the company’s public image.

Tainting Engine Explained

Waratek is able to track user input across an application in real-time and identify and neutralize operations that could lead to vulnerabilities using our proprietary tainting engine. This process begins the moment data enters an application, marking it as “tainted” until it has been verified as safe.  When a customer inputs data that contains a potentially malicious script, our platform initiates a vigilant monitoring process that scrutinizes every operation performed on this data. The tainting engine detects the anomaly in real-time, identifies the threat, and corrects the vulnerability before the transaction proceeds. This immediate intervention prevents a security breach, ensuring the transaction’s integrity and maintaining uninterrupted service.

To determine that data is safe, the Waratek tainting engine integrates seamlessly with Java’s File API and the Servlet API, employing a comprehensive set of rules and checks that analyze the data’s behavior and its interaction within the application. For instance, when data interacts with the filesystem through Java’s File API, the engine examines the operations to ensure they do not attempt to access files or directories outside of a safe, predefined scope.

This process offers continuous protection against Path Traversal, Local File Inclusion, and Open Redirect attacks without requiring code changes or causing significant performance overhead. Similarly, for data that influences HTTP responses via the Servlet API, Waratek ensures that it does not lead to unsafe redirects or responses that could be exploited for XSS attacks. Only after passing these stringent checks is the data considered “safe,” meaning it does not pose a threat to the application’s security or functionality.

Moreover, the tainting engine’s real-time response does not impede application performance, a critical consideration for e-commerce sites where speed and efficiency are key to customer satisfaction. This balance between security and performance enables businesses to operate securely without sacrificing the user experience.

No More E-Commerce Downtime

It’s clear that, especially in an industry that is constantly processing online transactions and holds a mountain of sensitive customer data, taking down apps to patch vulnerabilities can have a major financial impact. The consequences of not patching will always outweigh those of patching, but it’s a catch-22 that companies shouldn’t have to face. The best solution is one that allows administrators to patch security flaws in real time without taking apps offline.

The Waratek platform provides a seamless solution to the security challenges facing e-commerce today. By identifying and correcting vulnerabilities in real time, Waratek ensures that e-commerce operations are not just secure, but also resilient against potential future cyber threats. This technology empowers businesses to maintain the trust of their customers and the reliability of their online platforms, ultimately contributing to a safer marketplace, as well as a better business.

To get started implementing seamless security patching with no downtime, click here.

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