E-Commerce (electronic commerce or internet commerce) allows you to purchase and sell goods or services using money and data transactions online, at the comfort of your home.

Due to the ease of finding new products and shopping, as well as the surge of Covid-19, e commerce is gaining more and more momentum, and the busiest time for e-commerce is undoubtedly during the holidays.

However, a question we must ask now, more than ever, is whether our information is really secure with these websites.

Thus, in this article, we will be looking at how holiday season affects both e-commerce and cyber security.

What Happens During the Holiday Seasons?

Number of people visiting online stores increases. Sales during the holidays over the years have had an upward trend ever since 2008, which can be seen in the figure below taken from Statista. In fact, the number of people using e-commerce were at an all-time high during the Thanksgiving of 2020

Forbes reported that according to Adobe Analytics, spending on Cyber Monday this year increased by 15.1% compared to last year, resulting in $10.8 billion worth of online sales. Also, CNBC reported that the use of e-commerce on Black Friday increased by 52%.

Big companies such as Amazon and Walmart experienced increased e-commerce during Black Friday weekend: Share of all online sales grew by 14.4 points to 38.4% compared to last year.

When we talk about online shopping, we generally tend to think about large companies, but is it only them who profit from e-commerce in holiday seasons?

Can Any Business Use E-Commerce?

Yes, they can; and they should. Today, with platform providers such as BigCommerce and Shopify, it is quite easy to adopt an online retail tactic. It can also do wonders for sales, especially during the holiday season.

BigCommerce reported that from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday this year, total amount of sales increased by 74%. Although the most amount of purchases were made on Black Friday, a record increase of 86% in gross revenue was seen on Sunday of the holiday.

Also, the number of orders placed during the holidays had an increase of 48% compared to last year as well.

A similar company, Shopify, also reported that the number of people who made purchases through the website on Black Friday through Cyber Monday was around 44 million, which is an increase by 50% compared to last year. Total sales also increased by 76%.

These statistics show that online retail platforms can greatly boost the profits of both large and small businesses. They also indicate that people are transitioning to online shopping more and more.

So, not being a part of the e-commerce culture, especially during holiday seasons, can result in your business getting behind the eight ball.

Having talked a great deal about e-commerce, another point to be talked about is whether your information which you trust them with is secure or not.

Can You Trust E-Commerce Websites?

Trust is the bedrock of any transition, and commerce or e-commerce is no exception. In the end, you often have to trust these websites with your personal and credit card information to make purchases. So, let us talk a bit about whether you can trust their security systems.

What is Cyber Security?

It is basically protecting your networks from digital attacks. These digital attacks can take different forms such as complex hacks or social engineering. With companies’ dependence on the computers and the internet rising, it is no surprise that a need for security in this cyber environment is needed.

Why Do Companies Need Cyber Security?

Getting hacked can cause the confidential information of companies to get stolen, leaked, and can also put companies at legal jeopardy. Another thing is, it can destroy their relationship with customers due to lack of trust. At the end of the day, losing credibility is a lot easier than gaining it.
The number of cyber-attacks are at an all-time high: On average, businesses experienced 145 security breaches and spent $13.0 million for the costs and consequences of cyber attacks in 2019, according to Accenturate’s Ninth Annual Cost of Cybercrime Study

For e-commerce platforms, these attacks increase on heavy traffic dates such as the holidays. It only makes sense since these dates result in higher user numbers, more payments collected and more personal information registered, which means more people to target. In past years, a 57.5% increase in cyber-attacks during the holiday season have been recorded. With these attacks causing companies so much loss, you may wonder how businesses can protect themselves.

How to Protect Your Business?

The thing is, these cyber-attacks do not have to be very complex in their delivery. Just opening an attachment to an email can result in great losses if that email was from a hacker and that attachment was a virus. So, the first step is educating employees to be mindful of threats they can encounter. 

The second step is making sure your online services are indeed protected against hacking attempts and getting 3rd party contractors to assess your security. Cyber security companies, as well as ethical hackers that specialize in finding security gaps from the perspective of an attacker can be employed 

Finally, having a plan in case all else fails so that you know what to do immediately when you realize a cyber-attack took place is important. Each moment matters in an emergency and having a concrete plan can make a significant difference. 

What Can Happen? 

After talking about importance of cyber security, let us look at some examples from real life. 

In 2018, MyFitnessPal was attacked, and 150 million usernames, emails and passwords were stolen, according to BussinessInsider

In 2014, e-commerce platform eBay suffered an attack that cost it the account information such as names, addresses and birth dates of 145 million of its users, reported CSO

In 2013, Target had a security breach which compromised the credit card information of more than 110 million of its users and led to the resignation of its CEO, according to HuffPost.

Concluding Remarks

There are many, many more examples to give, but the main idea stays the same. Cyber security becomes more and more important with the increased use of internet for shopping. And protecting your business and making sure it is protected before a cyber-attack happens is a must.