Guarding Your Business Against Holiday Season Cyber Threats

Unmasking the Hidden Cybersecurity Threats Lurking Behind the Holiday Shopping Rush

Introduction: Cybersecurity in the Holiday Shopping Frenzy

We all get excited, don't we?

The sudden urge to add that blender to your Amazon basket due to its "knockout" sale price on Black Friday…. Or the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to buy that piece of tech you keep wondering about because it is HALF OFF for one day only… 

TechTarget predicts that over 141 million Americans will be alone planning to shop online during Black Friday and Cyber Week. This sudden increase in online transactions and processes highlights the need for cybersecurity preparedness in the face of the heightened threats that go hand in hand with this surge.


The Holiday Cyber Threat Landscape

During Black Friday and the holiday season, businesses face heightened cybersecurity risks (we know, probably not the sentence you want to read). The surge in online transactions attracts malicious actors seeking to exploit vulnerabilities.

Threats include phishing scams, ransomware attacks, DDoS assaults, and payment fraud, to name a few. Additionally, increased traffic can strain systems, risking performance and downtime. These are times within the year when we must reinforce security measures, conduct regular system checks, educate employees on phishing awareness, and implement multi-factor authentication.

We all know what could happen…. And data breaches can severely impact organisations. They jeopardise customer trust, leading to reputational damage and potential legal consequences. These are some significant repercussions that this supposedly jolly time of the year can bring. Safeguarding data is crucial to maintain credibility, sustain operations, and comply with data protection laws.

The Pandemic's Influence: A Digital Shopping Revolution

During the pandemic, we didn't have much choice. Our options for engaging with brands and organisations became mainly online-based for a significant amount of time. As a response, the e-commerce sector grew by over 43% in 2020, according to ARTS, which is an overwhelming amount of strain and change on the systems that support these online processes.

Adapting cybersecurity strategies to new shopping behaviours is critical to ensure data protection. Changes in online shopping patterns demand updated security measures to combat evolving threats. This includes securing mobile transactions, enhancing payment gateways, and educating consumers about safe online practices. 

Flexibility in cybersecurity strategies aligns with the dynamic digital landscape, promoting secure shopping experiences. If the pandemic taught us anything, things can change overnight regarding how consumers, our clients or how we work as an organisation, and we need to ensure our security processes support any agile change. 

Threats to E-commerce: Data Breaches and Payment Fraud

E-commerce businesses face significant data breaches and payment fraud risks, increasing the need for robust cybersecurity measures. Data breaches can expose sensitive customer information, and the financial consequences can be substantial, encompassing regulatory fines, legal liabilities, and costs associated with resolving the violation.

Payment fraud is another grave concern. Cybercriminals employ tactics like stolen credit card information, identity theft, and account takeover to make unauthorised transactions. This results in financial losses for both the business and the affected customers, and it can lead to a decline in transaction volume and revenue, and overall brand loyalty and trust may decline. 

These risks are particularly present during high volume, as increased use in these potentially vulnerable systems creates even more opportunity for a breach.

Protecting Customer Data: Encryption and Secure Payment Processing

It is not all doom and gloom, though; we can be proactive in ensuring that we have processes and a thorough cyber security landscape to support the protection of customer data.

Encryption plays a crucial role in safeguarding sensitive customer information by transforming the data into an unreadable format that can only be deciphered by authorised individuals or systems with the appropriate decryption keys.

When a customer submits personal or financial information on an e-commerce website, encryption scrambles this data into a complex code, rendering it incomprehensible to anyone attempting unauthorised access. Two recommendations for creating robust payment protection are below:

1. Tokenisation and Encryption:

  • Utilise tokenisation to replace sensitive data (e.g., card numbers) with unique tokens, reducing the risk of exposure during transactions.
  • Apply encryption for data in transit (SSL/TLS) and at rest to secure information during storage and transmission.

2. Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA):

Implement MFA to access critical systems and sensitive data, requiring users to provide multiple verification forms for enhanced security.

Vendor Spotlight: Solutions for Cybersecurity Resilience

At Core to Cloud, we pride ourselves on ensuring that the portfolio we offer of cybersecurity Vendors and platforms provides the most future-proof and agile solutions to keep organisations safe and their critical data assets secure.

Illumio is a critical player that can support organisations to understand their complicated, hybrid environments. It can illuminate and stop breaches from spreading across clouds, data centres and containers. It allows organisations to ensure that their environment remains safe and secure.

Benign in control is paramount to ensuring that you can contain and deal with any breach from any outside system associated with your business. You can make better and quicker informed decisions when you can see the issues and potential threats.

Incident Response Planning

You need to be prepared for the worst. It is not a particular holiday season emotion, but it is true!

A comprehensive incident response plan for a cybersecurity breach is paramount due to its multifaceted importance. It provides a structured approach, delineating clear roles, responsibilities, and actions to be taken during and after an incident, ensuring a coordinated and efficient response. This timely response is crucial in containing the breach and minimising its impact on the organisation's operations, data, and reputation.

This plan also ensures compliance with legal and regulatory requirements, guiding the organisation in fulfilling reporting obligations and mitigating potential legal liabilities. It also aids in preserving evidence for forensic analysis, aiding in understanding the nature and scope of the breach.

A well-defined incident response plan supports continuous improvement by allowing organisations to learn from past incidents. Post-incident analysis helps identify weaknesses, refine security measures, and enhance preparedness for future cyber threats. Ultimately, it is a linchpin for minimising damage, maintaining trust, and optimising cybersecurity resilience in an increasingly complex threat landscape.

Conclusion: Safeguarding the Season of Giving

It is our job, and within our roles and responsibilities, to safeguard our critical assets and data all year round. Still, the impact on changes in consumer behaviour throughout the year can throw a spanner in the works, such as the increase in online buying around Black Friday and the holiday season!

We can support you in having the right cybersecurity processes, platforms and vendors supporting your organisation so that you remain fortified regardless of any outside influences. This sounds like the true gift of the season, right?

If you would like to shine a light on your cybersecurity options and discuss more about Illumio, then one of our team is ready to take your call. And ask yourself this: are you sure you need that blender on Black Friday?

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