Staying Secure During the Shopping Season

Last year, eCommerce recorded unprecedented sales around the third and fourth quarters. Online sales have surpassed $1 billion in revenue and over %80 of consumers have said that they have shopped online to avoid the crowds when shopping for the best deals. With the onset of Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the growing popularity of shopping from Thanksgiving Day through Christmas Eve, security becomes more paramount than ever. Cyber Security breaches in which both employee and customer data are compromised has made headlines through the year-like those of Home Depot, Target, and Sony-which has led online shoppers to take heed and be aware of the point of sale systems they are using. Today’s shoppers aren’t only showing us what they’re buying, but how.

This year, shopping via a mobile device like a smartphone or tablet has risen %15 and in-store pickup has offered the ultimate bridge between the available inventory of the web and the storefront. Consumers are expecting more to trust retailers in the form of valid SSL certificates and often look for security guarantees through the buying process. Expired or questionable certificates are flagged by Google and many do not even bother clicking through them, leading them to shop elsewhere, while the verified green SSL security lock you can see in the URL address bar increases customer loyalty by %60-as well it should! Use of SSL certificates are a given in a secure web environment, but going the extra mile and taking care to encrypt the consumers’ shopping trends through Always-On SSL, instead of only encrypting information through checkout, is an extra degree of security that could mitigate risk for a hack and mining of consumer data.

For you online shoppers, take care not to give too much information to retailers via email or on social media, and be sure to navigate to the web site or application to directly purchase instead of settling for shopping through a social media site or an unverified downloaded native app. Making sure all software is updated on your computers and devices will also help to mitigate the risk for hackers to exploit vulnerabilities from old versions that are patched in newer versions. While we expect retailers to utilize our purchasing, sharing, and other behavioral data to bring us relevant ads and content, we’re also unwittingly creating a profile for a hacker to take on and exploit, so be weary of social engineered or targeted scams that seem to come from your favorite retailer but have subtly different URL links or ask for too much personal information. Identity theft and credit fraud are terrible ordeals to go through, but malware can flourish on your computer system unnoticed long after the holiday season, and should not be overlooked either. Over one-third of malware-distributing sites and apps were identified as legitimately registered sites that were actually hacked.

Online shopping trends don’t look like they’re going anywhere but up, and they help both retailers and consumers all year around, so it’s just as important to know what’s expected of your online storefront as a retailer as it is to know the best ways to protect yourself as a consumer. Making sure to encrypt user data, keep up to date with software, and being careful with sensitive information like account numbers and passwords, can not only serve as a good practice and exercise of caution through the holiday season-but also through any time of the year!