holiday shopping cyber threats

Delivering a superior customer experience is essential for any e-commerce business. For those companies, there's a lot at stake this holiday season. According to Digital Commerce 360, nearly $1.00 of every $4.00 spent on retail purchases during the 2022 holiday season will be spent online, resulting in $224 billion in e-commerce sales. To ensure your e-commerce site is ready for the holiday rush, it's vital to ensure it is secure.

While safety and security are top priorities for businesses of all sizes, it is essential for those who operate in the e-commerce space. To deliver the experience customers crave, many websites embed third-party solutions at every stage of the customer journey. In fact, for certain e-commerce businesses, their suite of third-party plugins is how they create and sustain a competitive advantage.

Yet many e-commerce sites are inherently insecure and vulnerable to attack due to their reliance on untrustworthy third-party solutions. Consequently, client-side security is a weak point for many e-commerce sites, allowing security incidents to occur directly in the browser without the customer realizing it.

Attackers can take advantage of security vulnerabilities on the client side via e-skimming, formjacking, or cross-site scripting. These attacks can compromise customer data, such as credit card numbers, personal information, and login credentials. They can also sometimes lead to financial loss for the e-commerce business and potential regulatory compliance violations.

When an attack involves e-skimming, cybercriminals insert code to skim data from a page that processes a customer's credit card data. Since this attack occurs on the client side, e-commerce businesses cannot observe the attack firsthand and react quickly.

Many e-commerce sites rely heavily on forms to gather customer data. Formjacking inserts an attacker between the merchant, allowing the attacker to access and record any data that a customer shares via a compromised form.

Cross-site scripting embeds malicious code on the client side. The code runs when a customer visits the site, allowing the attacker to gather the customer's personal, financial, and session data.

The proliferation of insecure third-party apps and the inability to observe an attack perpetrated via the client side provides attackers with enticing targets to exploit. The fact that attackers use security weaknesses in third-party plugins and not the e-commerce site itself means little, if anything, to an individual who is victimized. Since the attack took place via the website, for most customers, the responsibility for securing the interaction rests with the site owner.

To improve client-side security, e-commerce companies should minimize their reliance on third-party code without impacting the user experience. Deploying well-known third-party solutions with a commitment to security can also help. And, as with every type of software, plugins and apps should receive patches as soon as they become available.

Additionally, simulating cyberattacks that target the e-commerce company's website can uncover potential attack vectors before criminals can exploit them. Deploying additional layers of customer authentication can add critical layers of security and make it harder for an attacker to compromise a session.

Security software and applications can also harden your defenses and make it harder for attackers to use client-side vulnerabilities to their advantage. These solutions can uncover security flaws and quickly deploy security measures to mitigate vulnerabilities. They can also detect attacks quickly and lessen a company's exposure to client-side security risks.

When security flaws exist, sophisticated criminals will eventually find and exploit them at a date and time of their choosing. The massive spike in e-commerce traffic during the holiday season provides attackers with the perfect cover to use these flaws in client-side security to steal personal and financial data with impunity.

Customers expect e-commerce sites to protect their personal and financial data. Client-side security is critical to delivering on that commitment. Third-party plugins and applications form the backbone of countless e-commerce sites. Given their prevalence, it's easy to overlook their inherent risks. Client-side attacks take advantage of flaws and vulnerabilities, yet to the consumer, the responsibility for security rests with the e-commerce site itself.

Yet, when client-side attacks occur via third-party apps, online merchants are often unaware of their flaws and cannot see when attackers use them to their advantage. For many e-commerce businesses, since the vulnerabilities are out of their direct line of sight, they do not receive the attention they deserve.

Attackers aren't so short-sighted. Where security flaws and vulnerabilities exist, it's often only a question of time before they are exploited. E-commerce companies must take proactive steps to understand and mitigate the risks of client-side security vulnerabilities. Otherwise, attackers will continue to take advantage of them, leading to a loss of customer trust and confidence and the potential for financial losses and an increase in regulatory oversight.

To learn what your client-side risk profile looks like, and how you can mitigate those risks, visit

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