With an Increase in Online Shopping, Prepare for an Increase in Data Breaches

Hooded computer hacker stealing information with laptop

If you don’t think that online shopping will soon become as common as shopping at a brick-and-mortar store, you haven’t been paying attention. E-commerce has grown to the point where just about every business has a website and something you can purchase from them online. If your store doesn’t have an online presence, you are missing out on a huge income stream.

According to First Data, e-commerce transactions grew at a pace more than six times faster than brick-and-mortar stores during the 2017 holiday season. Sales on Cyber Monday alone set a new record with a reported $6.59 billion in sales.

My wife and I did about 95% of our Christmas shopping online. I even saw that you could buy your Christmas tree online. What? Yes, you read that right. And no, I didn’t make that purchase.

Where there’s money, there’s crime

Now for the bad news: criminals go where the money is. Based on current sales figures, that money is now in e-commerce. Shopping online can be convenient, but it comes with its own pitfalls. According to a study performed by Ponemon Institute, the average cost of a data breach is $3.62 million.

Imagine that a customer’s credit card number is stolen. Not only can thieves use it to make additional purchases online, they can also make physical purchases. Tyler Atwell at CUInsight writes, “After that some are able to manufacture a genuine-looking credit card from blanks and program the magnetic strips to effectively create a replica of the card that you still have in your possession. With that card and some cool nerves, they are able to use that duplicate to buy merchandise at any store.”

Theft of information through data breaches can also run deeper than simply using a credit card number. Criminals on the dark web are willing to purchase information from thieves and will likely use it to apply for credit or make purchases.

“Buyers are currently willing to pay just $1 for a Social Security number, which is the same amount they’ll pay for user and password information to Brazzers, a pornographic website,” reports Don Reisinger for Fortune. “Access to someone’s PayPal account is the most valuable asset at up to $80, depending on the available balance.”

Companies and consumers need to be aware

E-commerce sites and the consumers who use them need to start being more proactive, as cyber criminals seem to be staying one step ahead of security features. According to EyeOnPass CEO Daniel Söderberg, the complexity of data breaches is only growing, but even little things a consumer does (such as knowing best practices for passwords), can make a difference to their protection.

“Once a password is stolen, you should never use it again. You should consider that password very dangerous to use again as it is in the hands of hackers who can easily use it against you,” says Söderberg. “Imagine having your house broken into and someone stealing the key to your front door. Would you use the same locks going forward?”


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