Since the burst of the dot.com bubble, e-commerce has been increasing exponentially. Small and large companies have got into the business of buying and selling online and reaped the benefits of reaching newer markets by breaking the barriers of time and distance. But digitization and using latest technology apart from the above discussed aids, brings along its share of e-risks in the form of cyber-crimes. With millions of users sharing personal and financial information for shopping online day in and day out, the e-commerce becomes an online black market for hackers and cyber thefts to thrive in.
Internet and e-commerce have grown to become a part and parcel of every individual's life but sharing private personal or financial information does not provide enough security and safety to consumers. Cybercrime includes many criminal activities like hacking information or accounts, phishing, and denial of service attacks, which is where e-commerce sites lose their money. The global apparel retail chain Target has been a victim of cybercrime, when in the December of 2013; millions of accounts and personal data of consumers were hacked.
Phishing, where in the perpetrator sends fictitious e-mails to individuals with links to fraudulent websites which encourage users to share personal information, is one of the most common cyber space crime. Another possible crime prone to e-commerce sites is of Netspionage, when a perpetrator hacks into online systems or personal computers in order to acquire personal information, which is later sold to third parties. But the most dangerous to retailers is when online credit card information's are hacked for unauthorized purposes, and fraudulent purchases are made using it. Hence having better security tools and softwares to keep cyber criminals at far distance is one thing apparel retailers need to focus on, otherwise bear the consequences, like in the case of Target.
After the breach into customer data, the company has lost a lot of consumers, and in three months of the incident, net earnings fell by 46 percent in comparison to 2013's fourth quarter from US $ 961 million to $ 520 million. Since the last year's holiday season the company is believed to have put personal credentials of more than 40 million users at risk with the breach in customer data.
Financial information like credit and debit card details, names, security codes on cards, expiry dates, along with private details of shoppers in-store like shipping addresses, names, phone numbers, and email addresses were stolen by hackers. There have been cases like these in the past where in retail companies have been hit financially with such an invasion, but the scale and magnanimity of Target, has forced many other retailers to think and work towards a secure and safe software technology to protect information. Neiman Marcus also had a similar breach in data that hit millions of customers. As a result of which many top retailing apparel brands in the Unites States of America have joined hands to save themselves from such attacks in future.
Biggies in US apparel retail like Target, Gap, Walgreens, J C Penny, Nike, American Eagle, Safeway, and many others consolidated to form an alliance called the Retail Cyber Intelligence Sharing Centre (RCISC). The team will exchange real time threat information with the help of a central intelligence collecting system, which is created with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the companies' investors, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Secret Service. The primary goal of the
coalition is to combat potential threats before they plummet with effective training, education, and intel sharing to prevent any major data breaches. It also approaches to detect new malwares, tracking new software vulnerabilities, and other cyber threats with latest technology and software advancements to beat hackers and perpetrators at their own game.
However, it seems like being ready and prepared for any such attacks in the future is not enough for such large companies. The major issue is of updating technology and having better and stronger policies to protect customer information. Companies need to device better rules to follow in case of breach. Reluctance to upgrade technology can cost retailers millions of dollars and also bear the expense of notifying customers, re-issuing new credit or debit cards, and offering theft protect systems to customers. Delay in implementing the latest security systems can also lead to potential cyber-crimes. Also, financial institutions in the US must switch to security pin systems instead of magnetic strips, which are easy to duplicate, of using credit cards while making purchases to protect customer's data.
As breaches and cyber-attacks become more and more rampant just like in the case of Target, it becomes extremely important for retailers and companies to take support of sophisticated technologies and software to prevent future attacks. By investing in latest protection systems and initiatives like RCISC can save companies from losing customers and their confidence.