Holiday Hackers Can Ruin Website Availability and Security for Retailers

The few days after Thanksgiving in the U.S. are traditionally peak holiday shopping days for U.S. residents. They flood both physical and online stores to check off items on their holiday shopping lists, with hopes of scoring a few bargains. Almost everyone does some shopping online, according to the most recent Pre-Thanksgiving Holiday Retail Survey conducted by Deloitte consulting:

“85 percent of shoppers plan to shop in-store over the holiday weekend and 91 percent plan to cross off their lists online. Despite having so many online shoppers on Black Friday, Cyber Monday continues to be a peak shopping day online. Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of respondents plan to shop online on Cyber Monday.”

With so many website visitors during that crucial retail shopping window, companies must brace for spikes in traffic, protect their network security and maintain website uptime. Perhaps the number one concern of IT security staff at retail stores is data breaches. That’s for good reason; the Identity Data Theft Resource Center reported that as of November 15, 2017 (since January 1, 2017) there have been 1,172 data breaches, resulting in 171,687,965 exposed records!

Of course companies must guard against cyber threats such as phishing scams, malware, ransomware and data infiltrations that harvest personal information such as credit card numbers and email addresses. But they should also be concerned with 2 types of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack

  1. Volumetric DDoS attacks can affect website availability/service by sending a high amount of traffic, or request packets, to the target network in an effort to overwhelm its bandwidth capabilities.
  2. Low volume, short duration attacks often serve as a smokescreen for a security breach such as data theft, or installation of malware or ransomware. In a sub-saturating attack, hackers can take down the target’s assets while leaving Internet connectivity in place.

Some companies will be wary of large scale, Internet-crippling DDoS attacks, but those smaller attacks often go undetected by legacy, traditional DDoS mitigation solutions. Even if a small attack does trigger a legacy DDoS scrubbing solution, the attack is usually over in less than the time it takes (usually 10-30 minutes) for that scrubbing to activate. The only way to keep up with these increasingly sophisticated, frequent and low volume attacks is to maintain comprehensive visibility and automated mitigation capabilities across a network, so that even everyday DDoS attacks can be instantly detected and blocked as they occur and before they cause damage.

Although an online retailer could become a victim of a large, volumetric DDoS attack, our DDoS Trends research indicates that 96% of DDoS attacks are 5Gbps or less. Online retailers can prevent either small or large DDoS attacks from hitting their networks, via either an automated DDoS mitigation appliance, or via their Internet Service Provider (if it offers DDoS protection as a service).

For more information, contact us.