This week marks an infamous time period for online shoppers and retailers in the US. Cyber Week represents a national online retail event spanning 5 critical days, including Thanksgiving Day. Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Super Sunday, and Cyber Monday. The event, initially coined back in 2005 by the National Retail Federation, provides customers with some of the highest discounts of the year and brings more revenue for retailers than any other week of the calendar year. In 2021, Salesforce reported an estimated $62 billion spent in the US during Cyber Week, which was a record-breaking year. While this may be a key event for your business and online sales, it's also a key event for cybercriminals. Cyber experts warn businesses and consumers that with the increase in transactions, you may be at a higher risk of experiencing online fraud and hacking. Here we will explore what to look out for, and how to protect yourself over the holidays.
Why Does Cyber Crime Increase During Cyber Week
Cybercriminals have become much more sophisticated in terms of strategy. Now more than ever, hackers are able to identify vulnerabilities in online users and target them specifically. Cyber Week is an opportunity for online criminals as it guarantees a mass audience and multiple avenues to fraud them. In addition to the higher traffic, users may be less suspicious of unrealistic deals or emails since its standard for retailers and businesses to invest in heavily targeted advertising.
The rush of cyber deals makes it easier for fraudulent transactions to go under the rug, with the average adult spending $450 over the course of the week. With consumers purchasing at much higher frequencies, it may take them longer to notice any red flags on their bank statements.
Purchases over this week tend to have higher average order values, making the risk of loss greater for those who may be a victim of a cybercrime. While the average loss on a standard day can reach $130 per fraudulent transaction, on Black Friday that number spikes to an average of $210. Aside from the transaction itself, if a business’s site is down due to a hacking event, it could cost them millions in lost revenue. All of these factors combined make Cyber Week an extremely vulnerable time for business cyber security.
What Individuals Should Look Out For
Both individuals and businesses need to take extra precautions during Cyber Week to ensure their information does not get hacked. While individuals run the risk of credit card theft, fraudulent transactions, and even identity theft - businesses run the risk of getting sued for data breaches and experiencing extensive business interruption. Here are some small steps you can take to protect yourself and your business:
Be Cautious of Emails
Hackers often target victims through their emails by sending fraudulent emails. These emails could look like advertising, a request to update your billing info on their site or even an email that seems to be from a coworker. Always double-check the email address to make sure it seems legitimate, and when in doubt - report the email as spam. If you get an email from a coworker that seems strange, email the address you have on file for them first to verify.
Stick to Retailers You Know
If you’re planning on shopping this Cyber Week, stick to retailers that you are familiar with. If you need to shop as a first-time buyer with someone, make sure you do your research and see if the site has been associated with fraud before. Fraudulent sites and scams tend to come to the surface during Cyber Week with the aim of tricking you into “purchasing” something that doesn’t exist. In reality, many of them are just stealing your information and funds. It’s also key to ensure that during the payment process, checkout is secure. Don’t move forward with any purchases that ask for your banking info, Venmo, or PayPal.
Always Use a Credit Card
The number one thing you can do to avoid harmful transaction fraud is to always use a credit card. If you use a debit card, a hacker could potentially get access to your bank account and withdraw funds. Credit Cards, however, have fraud protection specifically for these types of scenarios. As soon as you realize there has been a fraudulent transaction, you can report the fraud, cancel your card, and clear the order.
Business Best Practices for Cyber Week
Businesses need to protect both themselves and their customers during highly vulnerable periods. Every business should have a cyber security plan in place, with a full training manual that all employees have access to. This will ensure that best practices are followed, and everyone who has access to security or personally identifiable information understands how to manage these responsibilities. Some top-level considerations for extra protection include:
- Limit who has access to security details
- Perform changes to your website only when you are using a secure browser
- Ensure employees don’t use public WiFi for company matters
- Add a secure checkout for your products and services
- Avoid emails with attachments or suspicious inquiries
Make Sure You Have Quality Cyber Insurance
No matter how many precautions you take, there is always a risk of falling victim to a cybercrime. Hackers continue to advance their technique and make it more difficult for us to recognize. Cyber Insurance is the best way to protect your business and your customers during the holidays. Cyber Insurance will include coverages like network security, malware, ransomware, phishing schemes, business interruption, legal fees, and the cost to notify customers who may have been affected.
So, not only will insurance cover the funds lost during a cybercrime, but it will also help cover costs associated with handling the claim and getting your business back up and running. With the average cyber claim costing anywhere between $300,000 for small businesses and $3 Million for larger institutions, cyber insurance could save your business from a total loss.
Protect Your Business with ECBM
If you need cyber insurance, or a professional to review your current program, ECBM is here to help. Our team of experts has years of experience handling complex cyber programs to ensure our clients are covered in all possible risks. Contact one of our agents for more information on our services.