The growing use of internet around the globe has triggered the expansion of e-commerce activities and increased the amount of time and money consumers are spending shopping online. Apparel e-tailing is no exception; hence the amount of individuals shopping via laptops, desktops, smartphones, and tablets is increasing with each passing day. The revenue generating business of e-commerce is believed to rise from $ 231 billion to $ 262 billion in the US alone, which is a whopping 13 percent increase. This lays a huge responsibility on the shoulders of apparel e-tailers to provide appropriate service and timely delivery of orders to customers.


This may sound like an easy business but e-tailers require keeping their websites and mobile applications up and running every single second and at the same time maintain safety and security of their customers information. These pose a huge challenge in front of clothing brands running an online store. Most clothing e-tailers seem to have the knowledge of keeping their overheads, logistics, and revenues in place, but what they really miss out on is keeping their business safe from online threats.


Just like installing cctv cameras and sensors in a brick and mortar store, an online store requires such safety, since the risks of viruses and attacks are higher. The expansion of apparel e-commerce brings along the danger and possibility of cybercrimes too. So far e-tailers are aware about credit card thefts and identity frauds but the latest menace causing attack is the Distributed Denial of Service (DDos) or Denial of Service (DoS).


The DoS or DDoS attack is essentially an attempt to make a machine or resource of networks unavailable to its intended users. There are different means and ways hackers adopt to carry out a DDoS attack. But it normally comprises of the efforts of one or more individuals to momentarily or indefinitely disturb or suspend connectivity to the internet. Cybercriminals planning such DDoS attacks generally target apparel websites or services that are hosted on high profile web servers, for example banks, retailers, or card payment gateways hampering internet activities.


With the convenience of shoppers purchasing clothing by just the touch of a finger, the online retailing platform is expected to increase to $ 327 billion in sales every year, by the year 2016. But this amazing growth for online retailing comes at a price for brands and companies. Hackers with a DDoS attack can flood a retail website with tremendous traffic and overwhelm an apparel e-tailers server, to the extreme of disabling access to sites or mobile applications to their users. This can result in heavy losses for a clothing brand and also cause high customer dissatisfaction. The intensity of such attacks last from a few hours to a few days.


Holiday seasons and mega sales are usually the times when the probabilities of DDoS attacks are high. Apparel e-tailing industry is fiercely competitive and hence many unscrupulous players can also use the DDoS attack to sabotage their contemporarys website and draw consumers to their own site. When consumers cannot access a particular apparel e-tailers site they get frustrated and are bound to switch to their competitors site for shopping. A DDoS attack, however, are not meant for stealing money, at least not directly, but the downtime caused due to such an attack can lead to heavy expenses.

 

A new breed of cyber criminals who call themselves Hacktivists are also taking leverage of DDoS attacks. These hackers attack computers or computer networks as a medium for political protests, by attacking an organizations site for hours, and denying any form of access, to communicate their agenda. Such cyber-attacks have raised serious concerns about DDoS, and mitigating it for safer online business operations.


Every second of smooth running of an apparel e-tailers site or mobile application counts and DDoS attack leads to missed sales, and more than that loosing customers confidence in ones brand or company, which can cause great damage. E-tailers are expected to generate 40 to 50 percent of their revenue during peak holiday seasons but a crash or slowdown can decrease it to a significant 2 to 3 percent.


Firewalls, Intrusion Prevention Services (IPS), and Intrusion Detection Services (IDS) provide a certain amount of protection if they are configured appropriately. Apart from this there are software made by several companies that offer apparel retailers in the market place, working tools to fight DDoS and DoS attacks. With Cyber hackers using sophisticated techniques like network flooding and application layer attacks, it becomes inevitable for apparel retailers to improve their defence position against DDoS attacks. Instead of having big marketing budgets, experts believe e-tailers must focus on having secured IT systems.


The US retail giant Target last Christmas incurred a loss of $ 148 million and Zappos ran into downtime due to a cyber-attack like DDoS. According to a survey done by Neustar in 2012, one-fifth of the companies in UK were victims of a denial-of-service attack, out of which 53 percent constituted of telecom firms, 50 percent e-commerce businesses, and 43 percent retailers. Hence with the increase in usage of apparel e-tailing websites for shopping, the rate of cyber-crimes and DDoS attacks is expected to increase too.


The matter of DDoS is being taken very seriously by many apparel retailers and the potential to be affected by such attacks is really pinching harsh realities for businesses across the globe. The only way to mitigate such huge risk is be prepared with a strong IT infrastructure wading off unnecessary invaders and controlling traffic to ensure that their revenues, customers, and reputation does not suffer.


References:


1.      Blog.buckner.com

2.      Eweeek.com

3.      Geekycube.com

4.      Apparel.edgl.com

5.      Infosecurity-magazine.com