Record web traffic and cyber threats could disrupt Black Friday shopping

Online shopping
(Image credit: Future)

A new report has laid bare the cybersecurity risks facing the online retail sector as it gears up for another Black Friday shopping spree. The

Resarch from Imperva suggests that record traffic levels, driven by both the coronavirus pandemic and the holiday shopping season, as well as several concerning attack trends could wreak havoc for online customers.

According to Imperva, web traffic to retail sites surged by as much as 28% above the weekly average after stay-at-home orders were issued by governments earlier this year. Realizing that more individuals would be forced to carry out their shopping online, cyberattackers have renewed their efforts to carry out malicious activities.

“The holiday shopping season is a crucial revenue period for retailers every year, but in 2020, they face a two-pronged threat: managing unprecedented levels of human and attack traffic to their websites and APIs,” Edward Roberts, Application Security Strategist at Imperva, explained. 

“As COVID reshuffled lives and daily habits, shoppers swarmed online retail sites at record levels. Amid this historic holiday shopping season, the retail industry is likely to experience a peak in human traffic that exceeds anything measured this year and unlike anything in recent memory. The question is how many attackers are going to hide within this expected traffic spike?”

Record threat levels

Several concerning attack patterns have been spotted targeting online retail of late. The first, and most persistent, involves automated bot attacks. Sometimes these are deployed specifically to cause disruption but, increasingly, retailers are also using them to spy on their competitors.

Imperva also notes that API and web attacks have both been viewed at record levels this year, often with the aim of acquiring sensitive customer data. High levels of DDoS, account takeover, and client-side attacks were also spotted.

Where the coronavirus has caused significant disruption to many people’s lives, cyberattackers have spied an opportunity. Whether it’s through the spread of misinformation, phishing attacks, or simple credit card fraud, threat actors will certainly be trying to use the increased traffic of this holiday season to their advantage.

Barclay Ballard

Barclay has been writing about technology for a decade, starting out as a freelancer with ITProPortal covering everything from London’s start-up scene to comparisons of the best cloud storage services.  After that, he spent some time as the managing editor of an online outlet focusing on cloud computing, furthering his interest in virtualization, Big Data, and the Internet of Things.