The Christmas season is upon us, and it’s high time consumers and retailers start making arrangements to stay one step ahead of the holiday scams that are prevalent. With problems lurking in the shadows due to multiple spikes in spending habits, it’s important to avoid all financial fraud and identity theft. In addition to this, the Winter holidays bring with them potential opportunities for impersonation and data breaches, which can easily bring down systems and IT networks.
In the past, IT administrators focused more on consumers, but over time, even retailers have begun to gain attention. While customers may lose a certain amount of their payment and confidential information, retailers may face adverse catastrophic consequences when their systems are hit by a holiday cybersecurity attack. Once retailers’ systems and network are secured, they can add special security measures to protect the interests of potential consumers.
How can retailers stay protected?
It’s common for hackers to increase their activity during the holiday season. Spear-phishing and data breaches are at an all-time high, which in turn calls for increased vigilance and better cybersecurity practices. Retailers offer a wider landscape for hackers, as there is usually a lot of financial and personal records at stake.
1. Strengthening threat detection capabilities
While most retailers already have preventative security measures in place in their software, the holiday season requires them to increase their detection and threat monitoring capabilities. Multiple additional authentication steps are usually recommended during peak shopping periods to prevent suspicious transactions. However, additional verification steps can deter customers, which is why retailers must try to implement operational threat detection techniques. This approach to cybersecurity keeps malicious activity at bay, identifies threats faster, and doesn’t even negatively impact the user experience.
2. Prioritizing employee awareness
Adding new employees to your existing staff during the holiday season is probably not the smartest move ever. Most temps seem to make a quick buck, and some may even cause data breaches, on purpose or by accident. Therefore, employee awareness in the form of training is very important, preferably as part of the personnel orientation process.
3. Sharing threat information
As criminals can easily share attack methods and break into multiple databases, even retailers can share threat intelligence to gain an extra layer of security. They may use automated methods to share threat intelligence and some semi-automated strategies such as threat intelligence and closed groups. When threat intelligence is publicly shared, it’s easier for other retailers and organizations to implement strategies and stay protected.
4. Implementation of contingency plans
Retailers must have a working contingency plan for every threat scenario. They should typically include system rebuilding, system isolation and technical inspections. However, these plans must be both communicative and procedural in order to add value to the scheme of things. In addition to this, retailers must also have a backup plan, so that the above-mentioned information security tips are not able to detect and repel attacks.
Can consumers stay protected?
The majority of online and offline consumers have already improved their current security awareness; thanks to the growing media coverage of cyber incidents. However, there are a few cybersecurity tips that can help them protect their hard-earned money and shop freely during the holiday shopping season.
1. Evaluating comfort against risk
Consumers should assess information security risks before connecting to the servers. Not only retailers, but also consumers are responsible for finding the perfect balance between privacy and personalization. Storing card data or working with stored customer data can lead to catastrophic cyber attacks in the form of SQL injection threats and even database compromise.
2. Searching for phishing messages
Consumers should look for suspicious email attachments before continuing to download or click. Unexpected links, such as a “Track Package” message when you have not ordered anything, must be avoided.
3. Using multi-factor authentication
Consumers often ignore password security and hygiene, which in turn puts their confidentiality and privacy at risk. The most popular ways to stay safe are multi-factor authentication such as OTPs, a digital vault, and even the use of paraphrases.
4. Checking the card’s account statements
The holiday shopping season often misleads consumers into shopping across borders. However, spending spikes must be combined with regular account statement checks. This approach allows consumers to closely monitor their spending and track any kind of anomalies on the card. This strategy nips financial fraud in the bud.
The right balance between awareness and vigilance is the key to a safe and profitable Christmas shopping season for both retailers and consumers. However, the perfect strategy would be to keep a cyber guard up and running all year round. This year-round approach helps adopt e-commerce best practices; thus securing the economy and mitigating unfortunate attacks.