Security scans performed on 218,000 Magento websites, the most popular e-commerce platform, revealed 86% are missing critical security patches, according cyber security consultancy Foregenix.
The survey carried out last month by Foregenix focused on SME company websites globally, including around 15,000 in the UK, also revealed 2% of the websites analysed are compromised and currently being harvested for their customers' data.
The cyber security company, which is renowned globally for its work on payment security, has an active threat intelligence team researching and analysing attack trends, with a strong focus on the e-commerce sector. Recent research identified a growing global trend for brute force attacks in the first half of the year.
Benjamin Hosack, co-founder and chief commercial officer of Foregenix, said: 'The rise in cybercrime threatens to undermine confidence in e-commerce, especially in markets leading the way in online sales such as the US and UK. While heavy penalties by card providers put many smaller traders at risk.
'Magento and other e-commerce platforms release regular software updates in response to vulnerabilities. These security patches, if not used, can leave websites highly vulnerable to hacking.
'Online businesses often assume web developers and agencies take care of security. Design agencies are great at producing beautiful, transactional websites that sell, but their expertise on security issues generally isn't as well developed. Agencies and their clients need to be aware of e-commerce security issues, as even a single breach can be devastating for a small business.
'Simple precautions can make a real difference to reducing a company's risk from criminals such as changing default settings on the administration interface and using stronger passwords. Risk can never be entirely eliminated, so companies should also consider investing in a cyber insurance policy.'
Any business that wants to know whether its website is secure can scan externally for free, using the same technology that detected the issues above at http://webscan.foregenix.com.