With a record level of holiday sales shifting online amid the COVID-19 pandemic, retailers are bracing for more security risks. Tripwire reports 78% of retail security workers said in a recent survey that their organizations had taken additional security precautions this holiday season.
More than one-third of survey participants indicated COVID-19 was entirely responsible for additional security investments leading up to the holiday this year.
“It’s clear that COVID is driving changes in how retail organizations think about the holiday season. They’re starting earlier and expecting increased volume, along with increased risk. With fewer people in the stores, there will be more online shopping. More online shopping means more of the risks that go along with it, including attacks on both consumers and retailers themselves,” noted Tim Erlin, vice president of product management & strategy at TripWire.
The survey found the additional security investments took on several different forms with 75% of respondents saying their employers invested in more tools and technology. Almost 70% said employers updated processes and provided additional training. About half (51%) said the organization had increased use of managed services, while 39% noted the hiring of additional employees and contractors.
The majority of organizations said they increased security budgets to give their teams the best chance to fend off breaches. Consequently, more than three-fifths (61%) of respondents reported that their ability to detect and respond to a security breach had improved since the previous year. Almost a third (32%) of survey participants characterized their company’s data protection capabilities as “excellent,” a 19% increase over 2017. Employer competencies were “good” with 38%. The percentage of organizations detecting fraud configuration changes within minutes or hours grew from 55% to 97% between 2017 and 2020.
But the survey also found security professionals are often working understaffed because of a skills gap and issues with retailers having enough professionals to do the increased work. The survey found that 83% of security professionals said they felt more overworked in 2020 than in past years.
TripWire said as the shopping landscape continues to evolve, the cyber fraud threats will only get worse. Last week TransUnion released new findings around online retail trends during the start of the 2020 global holiday shopping season. The research shows suspected online retail fraud worldwide during the 2020 holiday shopping season would rise 14% from earlier this year and be 59% higher than the same period in 2018. The findings are based on the same-store sales analysis of TransUnion’s e-commerce customers during the traditional start of the global holiday shopping season, which is Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday.
Consumers are aware of security risks of shopping online, but with COVID-19 cases rising in many parts of the country, the number of U.S. online holiday sales is expected to jump between 20% and 30% this year, according to the National Retail Federation.
A recent survey by General Global Assistance found that 30% of respondents would avoid holiday online shopping because of heightened data breaches. The majority of those avoiding online shopping (74%) said the fear has risen since the pandemic had forced them to use their credit card more often. While the concern is higher among consumers, 86% of those surveyed said they plan to do holiday shopping online, a 21% increase from last year.