Software Testing

Prevent Credit Card Testing Attacks on a WooCommerce Site

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Credit card testing, or “carding,” is a method used by malicious actors to validate stolen credit card data for future unauthorized transactions. In this process, bots attempt several small transactions in a brief period to determine which cards are still active and can be used for larger purchases. Small e-commerce stores are particularly vulnerable to such testing, often lacking robust security measures. Fraudsters target these smaller sites, especially those selling lower-cost products or accepting donations, as small transactions are less likely to be noticed and cancelled by cardholders.

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Identifying Credit Card Testing Attacks

Recognizing signs of a potential carding attack is essential. Look out for the following indicators:

1. Unusual increase in small transactions.

2. Multiple transactions from an uncommon selling location.

3. Repetitive transaction attempts from the same user, email address, or IP address.

4. Increase in failed transactions.

5. Unexpected spike in sales.

6. Sudden decrease in the average order total.

How to protect your website against credit card testing attacks

Given the inventiveness of fraudsters, who continually refine their methods, a combination of measures proves most effective in safeguarding your site. There isn’t a singular solution to prevent credit card testing attacks. However, understanding how fraudsters operate and the available countermeasures empowers you to choose the best combination of tools for your specific WooCommerce store. Begin by implementing general security precautions across your entire WordPress site.

Choose a host wisely

Choosing a reputed and reliable hosting provider is crucial for your WordPress site’s security. Prioritize security by offering firewalls and malware monitoring features as part of your hosting plan. A firewall, in particular, plays an essential role in monitoring and blocking potentially malicious traffic, providing an added layer of defense. Additionally, it allows you to blacklist specific IP addresses, deterring repeat attempts from known threats. This fundamental security foundation safeguards against card testing and shields your site from various other fraud attacks.

Regularly monitor transactions

Your first step should be consistently monitoring transactions in your store to promptly identify any potential suspicious activities. For example, increased declined payments might indicate your site is under a card testing attack. Additionally, be vigilant for multiple transactions from customers sharing the same name.

Running regular updates

Regularly updating your software, including WordPress core, plugins such as WooCommerce, and your chosen payment gateway, is crucial for staying protected against evolving security threats. WordPress, an open-source platform, is a prime target for malicious actors, making timely updates essential. These updates often include security patches or enhanced features to combat the latest fraud techniques. When updating, adhere to best practices, such as testing on a staging site before applying changes to the live site and ensuring you have a recent backup in case of unforeseen issues. This approach is important to maintaining a secure and resilient WordPress site.


Turn off guest checkout

Another step is to disable guest checkout on your store. This forces customers to register before purchasing, introducing an additional step at checkout that can discourage scammers seeking a swift and straightforward method for card testing.

  1. Log into your WordPress dashboard.
  2. Navigate to Woocommerce > Settings and choose Account & Privacy tab.
  3. Then uncheck the box Allow customers to place orders without an account
  4. Click on Save Changes.

Adding Recaptcha

Implementing a reCaptcha challenge on your checkout page effectively thwarts credit card testing attacks initiated by bots. WordPress and WooCommerce offer various reCaptcha plugins, like Google reCaptcha for WooCommerce, enabling you to integrate reCaptcha on your checkout and other submission pages easily. These challenges, while increasingly common, these challenges are typically presented only when suspicious activity is detected, minimizing disruption to legitimate users. For those worried about conversion rates, advanced reCaptcha options provide a balance between security and user experience.

Use WooCommerce Anti-Fraud Extensions

While not specifically designed to prevent credit card testing, there are fraud-fighting WooCommerce extensions that can be beneficial. One such tool is CleanTalk. It is effective in stopping spam registrations and orders on WooCommerce stores, including preventing credit card testing. CleanTalk uses anti-spam protection without relying on conversion-killing captchas, allowing it to operate seamlessly in the background and carry out automated card testing and other malicious activities on your WooCommerce store.

Enable extra verification & protection

Depending on your eCommerce setup, you may have the option to activate CCV and zip/postal code verification during checkout. Another approach is to implement registration via email or SMS. Additionally, cross-verifying the country from which the order is placed with the cardholder’s country can be an effective measure to thwart certain card testing fraud attempts.

Address verification services(AVS)

To counter credit card testing attacks, consider activating Address Verification Service (AVS) in your merchant account settings. AVS verifies the billing address given by the user during the WooCommerce checkout against the address on file with the card issuer. The system returns a code indicating the match result, providing insights for your actions, such as rejecting the transaction or holding it for review. This additional layer of security helps prevent fraudulent transactions, especially when attackers lack complete billing information.

Check Stripe payment logs

Here’s a simple method to review your Stripe payment logs. After logging in to Stripe, locate a suspicious payment. Scroll down to “Events and Logs,” and click on the initial event, typically labeled “A request to create a Payment intent completed.” Proceed to click on “View Log Details.”

Security plugins

Consider incorporating WooCommerce-specific security plugins, such as the WooCommerce Anti-Fraud extension, to enhance your store’s protection. This plugin introduces additional features like pre-processing risk assessment for orders, the ability to pause or block suspicious orders, and notifications for identified high-risk transactions. Utilizing such specialized tools can provide an extra layer of security tailored to WooCommerce, helping to safeguard your store against potential threats.

Conclusion

Card testing attacks are a significant threat to eCommerce store owners, especially those dealing with authorizations or selling low-cost items. Falling victim to card testers can have severe consequences for your business. Fortunately, you can take preventive measures by monitoring suspicious activities, utilizing features offered by your payment processor, and incorporating WooCommerce extensions designed to fight fraud.

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