Rampant DDoS attacks illustrat​e why multichannel eCommerce is pivotal

Omnichannel Commerce

Online has quickly become the primary reta​il channel for many sellers. The barrier to entry is incredibly low compared to operating offline stores, particularly with the advent of online marketplaces that allow retailers to sell their goods to wide audiences in a matter of clicks. However, an effective multichannel eCommerce approach is vital to the success of retail brands, and the rampant increase in distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks over the past few years clearly illustrates why.

DDoS attacks: What, where and why

DDoS attacks are cyberattacks in which the perpetrator uses multiple systems to crash a particular system – in essence, they send websites or applications to so many visitors, the target buckles under the pressure. For retailers, this can result in online stores being down for hours or even days at a time.

An effective multichannel eCommerce approach is vital to the success of retail brands

DDoS campaigns can be launched for a multitude of reasons – perhaps the attacker wants to blackmail a merchant with the threat of bringing down the site and causing financial damage, fraudsters may use DDoS as a smokescreen for other illegal activities, a competitor might want to make a site unavailable during a key business time frame, or cybercriminals​ could just not like the brand in question.

In the second quarter of 2015, the number of attacks increased by 7 percent year over year. A recent report from Akamai Technologies found the number of DDoS attacks being executed in recent years has gone up. In the second quarter of 2015, the number of attacks increased by 7 percent year over year. While retailers are not priority targets for many of these businesses, with only approximately 2.6 percent of merchants affected, the growing frequency of attacks is something retailers should be wary of, particularly because even a single attack can do monstrous financial damage, especially if executed during a peak sales period.

A separate study conducted by Data Breach Investigations Report and reported by Retail Info Systems News noted that while data breaches and point-of-sale-based hacks are the top concern for many merchants, DDoS is a common type of attack in the space. In fact, 33 percent of digital attacks inflicted upon merchants are DDoS​ in nature.

Improving resilience toward DDoS attacks

As is the case for any digital threat, retailers can take numerous steps to help prevent or mitigate catastrophic DDoS attacks. Establishing a policy that details what to do if an attack happens is the first step, but other measures, such as purchasing cyber insurance, may also help.

Being available on multiple channels helps mitigate damage from DDoS attacks.Being available on multiple channels helps mitigate damage from DDoS attacks. However, retailers could also mitigate some of the damage done by a DDoS attack by simply utilizing a greater number of channels. Instead of accepting that their products are completely unavailable in the event of an attack, merchants could direct their customers to mobile applications, online marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay or nearby stores. While a successful DDoS attack will still result in financial damage, retailers can mitigate some of this by simply being less reliant on a single channel to generate sales.

Thanks to the advent of new omnichannel tools, operating across multiple sales avenues has never been easier, and doing so can make merchants more resilient to DDoS attacks.

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