Cyber Monday Financial Stakes High for Ecommerce and Criminals
By David A. Utter
Cyber Monday, the branding applied to the Monday after Thanksgiving by Shop.org several years ago, represents in the minds of consumers a brisk online shopping day. The data seems to agree, as IBM Smarter Commerce declared 2012's Cyber Monday the biggest ecommerce shopping day of the year.
EMC's RSA Security and the Ponemon Institute looked at the importance of Cyber Monday from a crime perspective as they assessed the potential damage criminals could possibly do to ecommerce sites. Their 2013 eCommerce Cyber Crime Report noted that just as heavy traffic can boost sales, downtime attributed to criminal actions would be costly.
An hour of downtime represents an average of almost $500,000 lost, or nearly $8,000 per minute that purchases can't be completed. Extending the potential loss consideration to include reputation and brand damage brings the average loss to $3.4 million, according to the companies in the study.
Figure 1 from the study shows the percentage increase in revenues on Cyber Monday. As shown, 51 percent of respondents (34 percent + 13 percent + 1 percent + 2 percent + 1 percent) estimate that revenues just on Cyber Monday will increase more than 50 percent. Based on all responses, the average increase is 55 percent or $665,115.
With companies surveyed anticipating revenue increases on Cyber Monday, over $600,000 on representing gains of 55 percent on average, one might expect firms to be more security-conscious. But the survey found only a third of companies taking any special precautions to maintain uptime and site integrity.
Distributed denial of service attacks coming from botnets topped the list of attacks against ecommerce anticipated by the study's respondents. Eighty-three percent of those surveyed think these are the most likely attacks to occur; 72 percent think these would be very difficult or difficult to detect.
Frauds related to misuse of mobile apps not only rated second among threats perceived by the survey, but would also come at a time when greater numbers of people turn to mobile devices as part of their shopping experience. The study explained how that would work:
"Companies that are vulnerable have an app store/market place that provides access to products and instant rebates. Criminals masquerading as a merchant and a buyer manipulate the open platform for financial gain, cashing in on rebates and earning points from credit card incentive programs."
Tools that can help detect manipulations of business logic in a criminal way do exist; firms like EMC's RSA and others are active in this field. Ecommerce platforms owe their customers a secure shopping experience as well as a pleasant and effective one.
About the author:
David A. Utter is a freelance writer based in Lexington, KY. He has covered technology topics from search to security to online business and has been quoted in places like ZDNet and BusinessWeek. He considers his appearance on NPR's "All Things Considered" with long-time host Robert Siegel a delightful highlight. Send your tips to firstname.lastname@example.org and find him on Twitter @davidautter and on LinkedIn.
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