Lalit Ahluwalia is committed to redefining the future of cybersecurity by helping large, medium, and small-scale businesses build digital trust. Here, Lalit explores the security implications that accompany the frenzy of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, with the aim of enabling you to enjoy a safe and secure shopping experience during the holiday season.
The holiday season is fast approaching, and you know what that means – Black Friday and Cyber Monday are just around the corner! As you prepare your shopping list, it’s important to keep cybersecurity top of mind. Black Friday and Cyber Monday see a huge surge in online shopping but also provide prime loopholes for cyber attacks. E-commerce sales have skyrocketed in recent years, especially around Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
According to a recent Digital Commerce 360 Report, online sales hit $9.12 billion on Black Friday in 2021, up from $7.4 billion in 2020. Cyber Monday 2021 was even bigger at $10.7 billion. In 2022, 87 million Americans shopped online on Black Friday and Cyber Monday with sales reaching a staggering $11.3 billion, making it the largest online shopping day in U.S. history as revealed by a 2022 Adobe Ecommerce Report. Experts predict continued growth in 2023 as more consumers shift to online shopping. With this surge in e-commerce comes increased cyber risks you must stay vigilant against as we gear up for the November 2023 shopping extravaganza.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday: A Brief Overview
Born in the United States, Black Friday traditionally signals the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. Over time, this phenomenon has transcended borders, becoming a global event where retailers entice consumers with irresistible discounts. Cyber Monday, closely following Black Friday, focuses on online deals the Monday after Thanksgiving.
As we approach the next Black Friday and Cyber Monday of November 2023, the evolution of these events brings not just excitement but an increased risk of cyber threats.
The Cyber Threat Landscape
Imagine eagerly filling your virtual cart with Black Friday deals, only to discover that hackers could be silently siphoning your credit card details. Skimmers, known for infiltrating compromised websites, extract sensitive information in real time during the purchase process.
The implications are severe – from data theft to lost site revenue and cross-site contamination. Your personal information becomes a prime target, and the consequences can extend to legal damages and compliance issues. A good example is the skimmer attacks in Magecart checkout pages.
As you explore Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals, phishing attacks are ready to cast their nets. Cybercriminals employ tactics that prey on the urgency and excitement of the shopping spree, tricking you into revealing sensitive information. Your vigilance is your first line of defense. Watch for red flags like suspicious emails, email addresses, unexpected attachments, and URLs that deviate from official websites.
Fake Browser Updates
In the digital world, even routine tasks like updating your browser can become a potential hazard. Fake browser updates, also known as SocGholish, redirect unsuspecting users to web pages designed to trick them into installing malware. The consequences range from downloading remote access trojans to information theft from crypto wallets, social media, and online bank accounts. Your quest for a secure online experience may unknowingly expose you to threats.
Attackers are always on the lookout for vulnerable websites using outdated plugins, themes, or other software. Software vulnerabilities are one of the leading causes of infection, with hackers using automated scripts to scan the internet for unpatched websites. Regularly updating your software, plugins, and systems is your best defense against cyber threats exploiting known vulnerabilities. See Statista CVEs Report.
The chart below highlights the growing trend of software vulnerabilities that have shaped the threat landscape as we know it today.
Supply Chain Attacks
Supply chain attacks specifically target trusted vendors who offer software or services. These attacks inject malicious code to infect all users of the service or application. Even popular platforms like Magento CMS are not immune, as evidenced by a supply chain attack compromising the software repository. With most modern websites relying on third-party APIs and dependencies, they become susceptible to such attacks.
Drive-By Downloads and Fake DDoS Verification Pages
WAF and CDN services regularly offer DDoS protection pages that perform browser checks to verify if traffic belongs to a site visitor or a DDoS attack. However, cybercriminals have evolved, using fake CloudFlare DDoS prompts to lead victims to download remote access trojans. The campaign has evolved with new exploitation and obfuscation techniques, with WordPress websites, some using WooCommerce, being the primary targets.
Major Vulnerabilities Facing E-commerce Retail Stores
Let’s take a look at the major vulnerabilities impacting e-commerce retail stores today.
- WooCommerce Plugins: With over 17% of webshops powered by WooCommerce, this easy-to-use solution has a larger market share than other popular e-commerce platforms like Magento. However, the abundance of plugins increases the potential attack surface if left unpatched from known vulnerabilities.
- Magento: Magento, a widely used e-commerce platform, recently released a security update patching nine vulnerabilities, including critical flaws. Patching your e-commerce website software to the latest version is the most effective way to mitigate the risk of these security threats.
Security Measures to Mitigate Cyber Threats During the Holiday Shopping Season
Here are some security measures to help you reduce risks of cyber threats while shopping on Black Friday and Cyber Monday:
- Security Awareness Training
Arm yourself with knowledge. Security awareness training is not just a formality but a shield against phishing attacks and social engineering scams. As you gear up for the holiday shopping spree, ensure you and your employees are well-versed in recognizing and thwarting cyber threats.
- Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
Elevate your defense with multi-factor authentication. By adding an extra layer of authentication, you significantly reduce the risk of unauthorized access. In a world where hackers follow the money, protecting your data through MFA becomes paramount.
- Regular Software Updates
Keep your digital assets up to date. Regularly updating your software, plugins, and systems is your best defense against cyber threats exploiting known vulnerabilities. In the ever-evolving landscape, staying current is not just an option; it’s a necessity.
Why Cybersecurity Should Be Your Priority
As you embark on the Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping journey, the stakes are higher than ever. Businesses with fewer than 1,000 employees account for 46% of all cyber breaches, highlighting the vulnerability of organizations during peak sales periods. The fallout from a cyber breach includes downtime, reputation loss, and, inevitably, lost sales.
The pressing need for organizations, particularly small and medium-sized businesses, to prioritize cybersecurity cannot be overemphasized. The sophistication of cyber threats, combined with the potential financial losses and legal consequences, makes cybersecurity an imperative, not an option.
As the digital realm prepares for the annual Black Friday and Cyber Monday extravaganza, your role in ensuring a secure online experience is pivotal. The Skimmer and MageCart Attacks, phishing attempts, and fake browser updates are lurking in the shadows, but armed with knowledge and proactive security measures, you can navigate this cyber maze safely.
As we approach November 2023, let the thrill of finding the perfect deal be accompanied by a heightened awareness of the numerous lurking cyber threats – both existing and emerging threats. Stay safe, stay secure, and enjoy the holiday shopping season responsibly!