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Data Breaches are the Biggest Woes of the Shopping Season

Know How to Protect Yourself and Your Business

Just a few weeks ago, retail giant Macy’s announced that they experienced a week-long data breach, right before the start of the holiday shopping season. In the last couple of years, several other large corporations, across many industries, have been victims of similar hacks and breaches. This includes big names, such as Facebook, Twitter, British Airways, Marriott Hotels, Adidas, Panera Bread, NewEgg, and Ticketmaster. 

A recent holiday threat report indicates that there was a 57.5% increase in attempted cyberattacks from 2016 to the 2017 holiday shopping season, and a 60% increase between 2017 and 2018. These attacks touch both individuals and retailers. Read on to know more about your vulnerability to data breaches, and preventive measures that you can adopt.

Holiday Shopping Season: Threats to Businesses and Individuals

In the online world, the holiday season is full of noise and activity. While frantic shoppers are looking for special discounts and last minute bargains, businesses are prepping for record sales that exceed their targets, especially on days, such as Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Amid this frenzy of distracted buyers and busy retailers, cybercriminals are scheming to carry out malicious campaigns for spear-phishing or delivering malware. 

For retailers, the threats could be in the form of:

  1. Denial-of-service Attacks: Hackers overload the supply chains and e-commerce platforms with fake digital traffic, enquiries and orders, which results in network system breakdowns. Essentially, the retailer site fails to garner the online sales that they would aim for.
  2. Compromised Business Emails: Cybercriminals pose as business partners or suppliers requesting payments for fake products or services. 
  3. Ransomware: Hackers encrypt critical business data or customer information, and are willing to decrypt it only on receiving a ransom payment.

Preventing such attacks would require you to:

  • Invest in comprehensive cybersecurity measures that can protect: 
  • Intellectual property, digital assets and other sensitive or confidential business information
  • Personally Identifiable Information (PII) of your staff, suppliers and customers
  • Payment card information, especially on your online shopping cart systems
  • Train and sensitize your staff on information security best practices
  • Implement a formal information security policy, along with a ‘Shred All’ policy
  • Periodically test email systems for malware
  • Rigorously monitor your point-of-sales and other systems for potential intrusions
  • Employ independent experts to assess the adequacy of your suppliers’ security protocols

For customers, every successful data breach would mean that their confidential information has fallen into the wrong hands. Typically, hackers use the stolen information for:

  • Making fraudulent purchases 
  • Fabricating false identities for opening accounts elsewhere
  • Creating cloned cards
  • Selling sensitive information to the highest bidder on the Dark Web  

Adopting safe online shopping practices would go a long way in safeguarding your personal and financial information from potential holiday season breaches. In fact, you must remember to be cautious, even when you shop in-store. 

  • Keep your wallet and digital devices safe, and be wary of your surroundings in crowded stores, as well as near the parking lots. 
  • Keep an eye out for card-skimming devices attached to ATMs or card processing machines, and beware of visual hackers while punching in PIN numbers at checkout counters.  
  • Monitor your bank accounts and credit cards statements regularly.
  • Securely destroy all your paper receipts, food bills, junk mail, holiday card envelopes, and labels from the delivery packages you have received.

Protect your personal and business information from breaches and thefts. For secure destruction of physical or digital records, rely on the on-siteor off-site services of a professional NAID AAA Certifiedcompany such as TITAN Mobile Shredding. To know more about our services, please call (866) 848-2699 or contact us online.

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