Ecommerce Security 101 for Headless Architectures

Learn how to mitigate common ecommerce security risks with the right technology, best practices, and partners.

Karly Cyr
Senior Manager, Product Marketing
Without customer trust, what do you have? Security has always been a priority for commerce teams, but in today’s climate, there’s a renewed sense of urgency. Data breaches have made regular headlines — permeating every industry from financial services to healthcare to retail.
These breaches come at a time when businesses of all kinds are looking to find agility and innovate quickly across owned and third-party channels through headless commerce implementations. The added complexity of these implementations can lead to security vulnerabilities if not addressed upfront with the right technology, best practices, and partners.
Whether you’re just starting out or you’re innovating on top of your current headless implementation, these ecommerce security considerations will help you safeguard data and build trust.

Common Ecommerce Security Vulnerabilities

Headless architectures come with added security and trust needs compared to traditional commerce implementations due to their complexity. As businesses implement new patterns in headless applications, these are the most common security vulnerabilities that need to be addressed:

Shopper Authentication

One of the most common vulnerabilities is shopper and API authentication for mobile and single-page apps because of the lack of control over the environments they run in. It’s critical to strengthen authentication. Consider the devastating consequences of a hacker accessing a customer’s authorization code to log into their mobile banking app.
Since mobile apps are developed specifically for app stores, they require direct API calls into the commerce platform. These direct API calls leverage user or client credentials for authentication. It’s critical to prevent insecure workarounds, like storing client or user credentials in the device itself. Single-page apps have similar security requirements.
The key is to use secure shopper login APIs. These APIs come with prebuilt, secure workflows based on standards like OpenID Connect (OIDC) and OAuth that prevent vulnerabilities in shopper authentication and API access.

Personal Data Protection

Customers want personalized experiences across channels, but only 27% completely understand how companies use their personal information. It is important to choose a commerce platform that is compliant with regional privacy regulations such as Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). You must strictly comply with these regulations to ensure data resides in the correct region and there is consent management in your headless architecture.


For any type of storefront, it’s essential to follow Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) best practices, use a web application firewall (WAF), monitor for denial-of-service attacks (DDOS), and avoid cross-site-scripting (XSS) attack vectors. Access to APIs should occur over hypertext transfer protocol secure (HTTPS) network connections. APIs must be protected with strong authentication on each and every call, and customer data should be encrypted at rest on disk.

Best Practices for Ecommerce Security in Headless Architectures

To avoid common ecommerce security pitfalls, the right people, processes, and platforms all come into play. Consider these best practices:


Your website can make or break your business. While the solution architect designs your storefront and the software developer constructs it, a security engineer ensures all that hard work — and the money it brings in — is protected from malicious attacks.
Security engineers take a defense-in-depth approach. They develop security protocols, investigate incidents, and oversee everything from penetration testing to vulnerability scans. However, if you’re building your own storefront, the responsibility falls on your team to secure your front-end presentation layer from malicious attacks and breaches throughout development and operations.
Conversely, if you’re buying an out-of-the-box headless storefront with a managed runtime, you will offload much of the ongoing operational security work to a trusted partner. Nevertheless, it’s still a good idea to involve a security expert during the build stage. This way, your developers have access to an expert who can answer questions at any time.


In addition to thoroughly assessing an API’s specification for security features and configurations, it is critical to weave security into your organization’s software development lifecycle (SDL). You want to achieve a secure software development lifecycle (SSDL).
The key is to undertake a security threat model during the design phase to ensure coding starts off on the right foot. During development, many areas of the design will need security controls coded in. As development winds down, a final code review and penetration testing should top off the effort, all of which is done in partnership with your security engineers to provide guidance every step of the way.
Get Commerce Cloud’s comprehensive recommendations on how to infuse security best practices throughout your implementation to significantly reduce risk.


Information flows in and out of your site with headless commerce. That’s why it is imperative to use a commerce platform that provides secure, user identity-led access to shopper APIs.
With a platform like Commerce Cloud, developers use the Shopper Login and API Access Service (SLAS) to ensure secure access to shopper APIs with a high-scale authentication and authorization solution. You can develop different security and authentication models for shoppers and merchants or trusted systems on behalf of shoppers. These include the ability to shop on desktop, a native mobile app, or a browser-based app from anywhere by leveraging different OAuth and OIDC login flows. For merchants, “trusted system” and “agent on behalf of” workflows enable design patterns to proxy past occurances, such as a shopper’s phone order.
Commerce Cloud also provides the ability to create and manage API clients so that your team has full control over the scope of access for shoppers and admins.
Lastly, Commerce Cloud offers a managed runtime for your storefront. This is the infrastructure that hosts, scales, and secures your storefront. It includes automated monitoring to mitigate DDOS attacks and a web application firewall (WAF) to block malicious actors. Plus, it ensures a physical data center and hardware security and provides regular security updates to address critical vulnerabilities.

Keep Innovating Confidently and Securely

When you address security upfront, your headless architecture is a secure environment for continuous innovation. Now that you know the most common vulnerabilities and how to mitigate them, go deeper with our blog on ecommerce security in headless implementations for developers.

Increase security in your headless commerce

Learn about the new Shopper Login and API Access Service to:
  • Ensure security and trust in your headless commerce applications
  • Discover the benefits for developers and shoppers
  • Dive into how the APIs work and what’s next

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