To paraphrase Charles Dickens, the holiday season is the best of times and worst of crimes for online retailers. It’s the best of times because since 2004 Cyber Monday, the Monday immediately following Black Friday, the Friday following Thanksgiving Day in the United States, spending has grown from $484 million to over $1.25 billion with estimates putting this year’s holiday spending at around $54 billion. It might not balance the federal budget, but it sure wouldn’t hurt.
It’s the worst of crimes because a 2011 Norton study shows an estimated $114 billion is lost to cybercrime annually with an additional $274 billion in time lost related to those cybercrimes. The grand total comes to $384 billion. This same study points out that 69 percent of adults have been a victim of some form of cybercrime with 14 becoming victims every second of every day. Tick. Tick. Tick.
According to a story in dailydealmedia.com, financial institutions and retailers posit that if consumers felt more secure about shopping online, Cyber Monday totals would easily surpass the total generated from Black Friday, the day following Thanksgiving Day in the United States, retails traditional brick-and-mall super holiday sale day.
The article goes on to note that, “While the threats from former Soviet bloc countries as well as Russia are primarily geared to theft, attacks from other countries such as Iran only have one goal, and that is complete disruption of online commerce.”
An attack might be launched to steal credit cards, or its purpose could be to disable online commerce and cripple a segment of the economy. Security experts have suggested DDoS (Denial-of-Service) attacks against Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase were the work of a foreign government working to that end.
The biggest threat especially at this time of year is directed at the largest online retailers including Amazon, Wal-Mart, Target, Overstock and others. With over $17.4 billion generated for the holiday quarter last season, Amazon has the most to lose and would be a high priority target for cyberthieves.