Ahileos - Fotolia

One million cyber attacks on UK retailers forecast for Christmas

Cyber attacks on internet shopping are expected to increase in the run up to Christmas, with a million attacks targeted at UK retailers alone

UK retailers are expected to see a dangerous spike in online criminal activity in the run up to Christmas 2016 that could result in losses of millions of pounds, warns digital identity firm ThreatMetrix.

More than 20 million cyber attacks are expected to target online retailers and shoppers in the UK alone, during the last three months of the year, according to the firm’s Q3 2016 Cybercrime Report.

The report is based on analysis from the ThreatMetrix Digital Identity Network, which protects more than 20 billion transactions around the world each year.

The report predicts 50 million global online attacks over the Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping week, which although centred around Thankgiving Day in the US, the marketing scheme has spread to other countries including the UK, Germany and the Netherlands.

Although the UK industry association for online retail, IMRG predicts that retailers will expand their deals and offers over a longer period of time this year, the major shopping days between in the run up to Christmas, including Black Friday on 25 November and Cyber Monday on 28 November, are still expected to become a particular target for online criminals.

According to the ThreatMetrix report, big retailers will see huge transaction peaks with up to 10 times the daily average on key shopping days.

Analysts expect 50% of e-commerce transactions will come from mobile as consumers use the convenience of mobile to make timely purchases.

Attacks are expected to focus on transactions with a 70% higher than average price and bot attacks are predicted to equal legitimate e-commerce customer traffic during attack spikes in the last quarter.

Read more about online shopping security

As a result, the number of fraudulent ecommerce transactions in the fourth quarter of 2016 is expected to be 60% greater than the same period the year before.

The escalation of cyber attacks, combined with the fact that more consumers than ever will shop online this holiday season, means that 2016 promises to be a “banner year for fraudsters”, according to Julie Conroy, research director at Aite Group, the research and advisory firm.

“It’s more important than ever for online merchants to employ technology that can help them effectively differentiate good customers from bad,” she said.

Over the past three months, ThreatMetrix detected 130 million attempted attacks worldwide, representing a 40% leap from the same quarter in 2015, and analysts expect this trend to continue.

“Fraudsters are using the holiday shopping period to target high value items, such as mobile technology, game consoles and consumer electronics,” said Vanita Pandey, vice-president of strategy and product marketing at ThreatMetrix.

“We’ve seen the types of attacks evolve in sophistication as cyber criminals become more targeted with their approach,” she said. ... ... ... ...

Read more on Hackers and cybercrime prevention