Cybersecurity and accessibility for Ecommerce platforms: Is it possible?

March 23, 2021  |  Karoline Gore

This blog was written by an independent guest blogger.

Ecommerce store losses to online payment fraud are expected to reach $25 billion by 2024, a new Juniper report reveals — up from just $17 billion in 2020. Undoubtedly, cybersecurity should be a top priority for ecommerce owners. At the same time, accessibility is another pressing concern, with the need for websites to comply with the World Wide Web Consortium's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0 AA). However, captchas — essential for making online shopping more secure — lack accessibility, while user-friendly input assistance potentially poses a security risk. Fortunately, it’s possible to make your ecommerce site accessible to customers with disabilities without compromising the strong security standards needed in this digital age.

Importance of accessibility

Ultimately, WCAG 2.0 AA compliance means that customers with either hearing or sight impairments, learning disabilities, or physical limitations will be able to visit your store. Your website will be compatible with the special software and assistive technologies these visitors may use to access and navigate it. Moreover, by making your ecommerce store accessible, you’ll inevitably reach a wider audience and increase conversions. The secure and streamlined checkout process — an important part of website accessibility — will give customers a faster and more appealing shopping experience. Again, this further boosts conversions, and customers will be more likely to want to repeat such a smooth and stress-free purchase. Best practices for site optimization and accessibility also go hand in hand. For example, images with descriptive text, site maps, breadcrumb links, alt text, and readability will all boost your site’s organic SEO equity. Ecommerce SEO will give you a competitive edge and place your site higher up in the search results.

Alternatives to captcha

Although captchas are important for strengthening website security, they’re typically inaccessible to people with disabilities who’re unable to clearly see and hear words, letters and numbers. Fortunately, alternative options can bolster security while maintaining accessibility. For example, if you use the captcha to verify that it’s a human visiting your site (and not a robot), try text and/or audio versions that clearly communicate the details of the captcha. So, this could mean including text that reads “type the word in the image” and an audio clip that announces “type the letters spoken in the audio.” Additionally, you can use other accessible alternatives, including human test questions, server-side spam filters, honeypot traps, and heuristic filters. Incorporating a combination of effective and reliable security options will ensure your ecommerce site remains accessible to people with disabilities without increasing the risk of security breaches.

The issue of input assistance

Input assistance is an essential feature that can help make your ecommerce site more accessible; it essentially works to help correct a customers' mistakes by identifying and highlighting errors, as well as suggesting potential solutions. However, input assistance can also pose a security risk, as customers may be prompted to enter protected legal, financial or health-related information. Here, it pays to check the WCAG regarding this issue:

“If an input error is automatically detected and suggestions for correction are known, then the suggestions are provided to the user, unless it would jeopardize the security or purpose of the content (Level AA).”

This means there’s no need for input assistance to be used when it may end up compromising security. Ultimately, prioritizing data privacy will help build trust with visitors to your site and turn them into loyal customers.

Cybersecurity and accessibility are two important considerations for your ecommerce site, and fortunately, the two aren’t mutually exclusive. By being careful to strengthen your site’s security and make it accessible to customers with disabilities, you’ll attract as many customers as possible and keep them coming back for more.

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