The holiday season has arrived, and it is high time that consumers and retailers make arrangements for staying one step ahead of the prevalent holiday scams. With trouble lurking in the shadows due to multiple spikes in spending habits, it is important to avoid any that financial frauds and identity thefts. Apart from that, the winter holidays bring along possible opportunities for impersonation and data breaches which can easily take down systems and IT networks.

Previously, IT administrators concentrated more on the consumers but in due course of time, even the retailers have started getting the attention. While customers can lose a specific part of their payment and confidential data sets, retailers can face harmful catastrophic consequences when and if a holiday cyber security attack hits their systems. Once the retailers have are safeguarded their systems and network, they can add specific security measures to protect the interests of the prospective consumers.

How Retailers can Stay Protected?
It is common for hackers to ramp up their activities during the holiday seasons. Spear phishing and data breaches are at an all-time high which in turn calls for increased vigilance and improved cyber security practices. Retailers offer a wider landscape to the hackers as a lot of financial and personal records are usually at stake.

1. Amplifying Threat Detection Capabilities
While most retailers already have preventive security measures in their repertoire, the holiday season requires them to beef up their detection and threat monitoring capabilities. A host of additional authentication steps are usually preferred during the peak shopping season which blocks suspicious transactions. However, additional verification steps can thwart the customers and this is why retailers must try to implement functional threat detection techniques. This approach towards cyber security keeps malicious activities at bay, identifies threats quicker and doesn’t even negatively impact the user experience.

2. Prioritizing Employee Awareness
Adding new employees to the existing staff during a holiday season is probably not the smartest move of all time. Most of the temporary workforce looks to make quick money and some can even cause data breaches, deliberately or accidentally. Therefore, employee awareness in the form of training is extremely important, preferably as a part of the staff on-boarding process.

3. Sharing Threat Data
When criminals can easily share attack methodologies and breach through multiple databases, even retailers can share the threat data for procuring an additional layer of safety. They can make use of automated methods to share the threat data followed by some semi-automated strategies like threat intelligence and closed groups. Once the threat data is publicly shared, it becomes easier for other retailers and organizations to implement the strategies and stay protected.

4. Implementing Incident Response Plans
Retailers must have a functional incident response plan for every threat scenario. These shall typically include rebuilding systems, isolating the systems and having technical controls in hand. That said, these plans must be both communicational and procedural for adding value to the scheme of things. Apart from that, retailers must also have a backup plan in place lest the aforementioned security tips fail to detect and counter the attacks.

Can Consumers stay Protected?
Majority of online and offline consumers have already improved the existing security awareness; thanks to the increasing media coverage of cyber incidents. However, there are a few cyber security tips which can help them safeguard their hard earned money and shop freely during the holiday shopping season.

1. Assessing Convenience against Risk
Consumers need to assess the security risks before establishing connections with servers. Not just the retailers, but the consumers are also responsible when it comes to striking the perfect balance between privacy and personalization. Saving card details or working with the stored customer data can lead to catastrophic cyber-attacks in the form of SQL injection threats and even database compromises.

2. Looking out for Phishing Emails
Consumers must look out for suspicious email attachments before proceeding with any download or click. Unexpected links, for example, a mail reading ‘Track Package’ when you haven’t order anything, must be refrained from.

3. Using Multi-factor Authentication
Password security and hygiene are often ignored by consumers which in turn compromises their confidentiality and privacy. The preferred avenues for staying safe would include multi-factor authentication like OTPs, having a digital vault and even using paraphrases.

4. Checking Card Statements
The period of holiday shopping often misleads the consumers into shopping beyond limits. However, the spending spikes must be paired with periodic statements checks. This approach allows consumers to keep a close eye on their expenses and track the card for any kind of abnormalities. This strategy nips financial frauds right in the bud.

Inference

The correct balance between awareness and vigilance is the key to a safe and yielding holiday shopping season, both for the retailers and consumers. However, the perfect strategy would be to keep the cyber security guard up, right across the year. This round-the-year approach helps imbibe the best online shopping practices; thereby safeguarding the finances and mitigating unfortunate attacks.