Thegrowing use of internet around the globe has triggered the expansion of e-commerceactivities and increased the amount of time and money consumers are spendingshopping online. Apparel e-tailing is no exception; hence the amount ofindividuals shopping via laptops, desktops, smartphones, and tablets isincreasing with each passing day. The revenue generating business of e-commerceis believed to rise from $ 231 billion to $ 262 billion in the US alone, whichis a whopping 13 percent increase. This lays a huge responsibility on theshoulders of apparel e-tailers to provide appropriate service and timelydelivery of orders to customers.


Thismay sound like an easy business but e-tailers require keeping their websitesand mobile applications up and running every single second and at the same timemaintain safety and security of their customers information. These pose a hugechallenge in front of clothing brands running an online store. Most clothinge-tailers seem to have the knowledge of keeping their overheads, logistics, andrevenues in place, but what they really miss out on is keeping their businesssafe from online threats.


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


TheDoS or DDoS attack is essentially an attempt to make a machine or resource ofnetworks unavailable to its intended users. There are different means and wayshackers adopt to carry out a DDoS attack. But it normally comprises of theefforts of one or more individuals to momentarily or indefinitely disturb orsuspend connectivity to the internet. Cybercriminals planning such DDoS attacksgenerally target apparel websites or services that are hosted on high profileweb servers, for example banks, retailers, or card payment gateways hamperinginternet activities.


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


Holidayseasons and mega sales are usually the times when the probabilities of DDoSattacks are high. Apparel e-tailing industry is fiercely competitive and hencemany unscrupulous players can also use the DDoS attack to sabotage theircontemporarys website and draw consumers to their own site. When consumerscannot access a particular apparel e-tailers site they get frustrated and arebound to switch to their competitors site for shopping. A DDoS attack,however, are not meant for stealing money, at least not directly, but thedowntime 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