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Best Practices to Secure Customer Data During Magento 2 Migration

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Ecommerce businesses today are switching their sites to Magento 2. Magento 2 is the latest version of the popular ecommerce platform Magento. It offers many new features and improvements. However, migrating to a new platform also comes with risks. One major risk is customer data being compromised during the migration. So businesses need to take steps to keep customer data safe. This article will cover some best practices for securing customer data when moving to Magento 2.

Protecting customer data is very important during any kind of platform migration. Customers trust businesses with sensitive personal information like names, emails, and addresses. If this data is breached, it can permanently damage the business-customer relationship. Following security best practices reduces the risk of breaches. It also shows customers that the business values their privacy. This builds more trust and loyalty with customers in the long run.

What is Magento 2 Migration?

Magento 2 is the latest version of the popular Magento ecommerce platform. It was rebuilt from the ground up to be faster, more secure, and more scalable than Magento 1. Many businesses are migrating from Magento 1 to Magento 2.

Migrating to Magento 2 means moving your entire ecommerce site and data from the old Magento 1 platform to the new Magento 2 system. This involves exporting all product data, customer information, sales history, and other business data from the old system.

The data must be transformed to be compatible with Magento 2. Then it is imported into the new Magento 2 store. In addition, theme code and extensions must be updated for the new platform.

After migration, the Magento 2 site replaces the old Magento 1 site. The new site provides all the same products, pages, and functionality. But it is built on modern architecture to improve performance and security. Customers interact with the new Magento 2 store as they did with the old site.

Use Encryption When Transferring Data

Encrypting data means scrambling it so only authorized people can read it. This protects customer data from hackers. During a migration, customer data gets moved between servers and platforms. So it is very important to encrypt this data while it is being transferred.

SSL certificates should be used to encrypt data that is being sent over the internet. These create a secure tunnel protected by encryption. Databases should also be encrypted through solutions like TDE or file/disk encryption. This protects stored customer data.

Encryption should be applied to customer data at all stages of the migration. This includes while extracting data from the old platform, transferring it to the new system, and loading it into the new database. Not encrypting this data makes it vulnerable to attacks.

Using strong encryption minimizes the risk of data breaches during a platform migration. It provides an extra layer of protection as customer data moves between systems. This prevents unauthorized access and keeps sensitive customer information safe.

Anonymize Customer Data When Possible

Sensitive customer data like names, emails, and mailing addresses should be anonymized if it is not critical for business operations. Anonymizing means processing the data so it does not identify individuals.

For example, names can be replaced with generic IDs. Actual email addresses can be hashed. Real mailing addresses can be swapped with fake formatted addresses.

Anonymizing only needs to be done when the raw sensitive data is not required after migration. It reduces the privacy and security risks of customer data being compromised. Customers appreciate steps taken to protect their personal information.

  • Replace customer names in the database with randomized IDs or aliases rather than actual customer names to anonymize sensitive identifying information.
  • Use cryptographic one-way hashing algorithms like SHA-256 to transform identifiable email addresses into anonymous hashed strings that cannot be reversed.
  • Swap real customer mailing addresses with randomly generated fake addresses that match the proper address formatting but contain no real identifiable address information.
  • For customer phone numbers that will not be needed after migration, replace them with randomly generated dummy numeric values that emulate phone number formats but have no real linkage to individuals.
  • Scrub IP addresses of any identifiable information like geolocation if they will not be required for business operations after migrating to the new system.

Also read: Benefits of Cloud Computing in Retail & Ecommerce

Test Migration in Staging Environments

Before doing a migration on the live production site, businesses should first test the full migration process in a staging or QA environment. This is a safe space to validate that the migration works as intended. It also verifies that customer data is properly protected throughout the process.

Testing in staging lets you identify and fix any issues with the migration scripts or process before touching the live production site. You can confirm the migrated data is complete and accurate. And you can tune performance before exposing customers to any downtime. Thorough testing gives confidence that the migration will succeed without surprises.

  • Clone the current production site including the full database into a staging environment to test the entire migration process with real customer data at scale.
  • Check that strong encryption is working for customer data both at rest and in transit during the staging migration. Verify there are no unencrypted data leaks during any part of the process.
  • Validate that any sensitive customer data fields like names, emails, addresses are properly anonymized or removed during the staging migration if required.
  • Perform multiple iterative test runs of the migration process to catch edge cases. Have developers optimize scripts and address issues between test runs.
  • Benchmark performance, site speed, and database response times before and after the staging migration to catch any impacts. Tune and optimize as needed.

After rigorous testing in a staging environment simulating production, businesses can be confident that the actual customer-facing migration will go smoothly. Taking the time to test avoids disruptions and data protection mishaps when moving the live system and database. Customers will appreciate minimal downtime and no surprises.

Limit Data Access to Authorized People

During a migration, access to customer data should be limited to only the staff that absolutely need access for that specific stage of the migration project. The principle of least privilege should be rigorously used when granting access to systems and data. This heightens data security during the entire migration process.

The IT staff executing the technical migration will need full access to all customer data as they extract, transform, and load it to the new system. However, other internal roles like marketing, sales, finance or HR may not require any direct access to actual customer data during the migration stages. Their access should be strictly restricted at this time if not essential.

Proper role-based access controls and permissions should be configured on the new system immediately after migration to continue limiting exposure of sensitive customer data. Logging and auditing of all access during the migration helps identify any improper data access for investigation.

  • Configure granular role-based access controls on the new system immediately after migration to limit which data each job function can access based on need.
  • Revoke non-essential staff’s read/write access permissions to source databases and migration systems during the actual migration process if they do not require access.
  • Implement least privilege permissions where each user account or role can only access the absolute minimum customer data needed for their specific job duties.
  • Rigorously audit and log all customer data access by personnel during each stage of the migration, including times accessed, to identify any unauthorized access incidents for follow up.
  • Mask or obfuscate sensitive customer data fields like addresses or emails so they are not readable by internal staff not requiring access during or after migration.
  • Require multi-factor authentication to be enabled for all staff accounts that have access to migration systems and infrastructure for additional account security.

Have a Backup and Rollback Plan

Migrations can sometimes encounter unexpected issues that damage data or cause downtime. So having backups and a rollback plan is crucial in case anything goes wrong during the migration.

Businesses should take a full backup of their website files, database, and all customer data prior to starting the migration. Backups should also be taken at key stages during the migration process. This gives restore points in case something fails mid-migration.

Backups may include full database dumps, copied website files, and extracted customer data files that can be re-loaded if needed. Automated backup software makes regular backups easy to implement. Storing backups both locally and in a cloud provider gives redundancy.

The backup schedule should be increased in frequency leading up to the migration date. Daily or even hourly backups are recommended in the last week before migration. This minimizes data loss in a disaster scenario. Historical backups from further out provide a lifeline for severe failures.

A rollback plan details how to restore the old systems and data from backups in the event issues arise during migration. It is a step-by-step guide for disaster recovery. It should document which backups contain the required data and how to rapidly restore.

Having a strong rollback plan reduces downtime if a migration fails. It also ensures no data is permanently lost. Quickly reverting to original systems avoids prolonged disruption to customers.

The rollback plan should designate staff roles and responsibilities. It should specify time estimates for restores. Contingency plans for partial restores should be in place. Rollback steps should be tested and validated where possible.

If migration issues occur, the first priority is safely restoring customer data from recent backups. Website files, databases, orders, product catalogs, and accounts can be incrementally restored to their pre-migration state. This gets systems operational again.

With strong backups and a rollback plan, businesses can migrate with less risk and stress. If migration does not go as expected, customer data and systems can be reverted. This is preferable to prolonged downtime or permanent data loss. A smooth rollback ensures customers are not impacted.


Migrating to a new ecommerce platform like Magento 2 comes with risks, especially for customer data security. However, businesses can take steps to minimize these risks during migration. Using encryption, anonymizing data, testing migrations, limiting access, and having backup plans are best practices for securing customer data.

Following these best practices reduces the chances of customer data being compromised when migrating to Magento 2. They also ensure minimal disruption to customers during the transition. Protecting customer data and privacy should be a top priority for any business undergoing a major platform migration. Taking precautions helps sustain customer trust through the process. Implementing security best practices demonstrates to customers that the business values and respects their data. It shows a commitment to transparency and responsibility when handling sensitive customer information during major technology changes. This thoughtful approach strengthens the business-customer relationship for the long term.

Stanislaus Okwor is a Web Designer / Developer based in Lagos - Nigeria. He is the Director at Stanrich Online Technologies. He is knowledgeable in Content management System - Wordpress, Joomla and PHP/MySQL etc

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