Small firms operating online should be ready for “unprecedented levels of attempted fraud” this month, according to payments processor Worldpay.
The company claims that instances of fraud could jump by as much as 80% in February as hackers capitalise on customer data harvested during the Christmas shopping period.
“We see a dip in fraud around Christmas as hackers go on the hunt for information, using the online sales rush to stockpile thousands of card details,” said Tim Lansdale, head of payment security at Worldpay. “It isn’t until February that they start cashing in on all the data they have collected.
“Data breaches can be ruinous, so it’s vital that small business owners know the risks and take the necessary measures to protect themselves and their customers and employees.”
The costs of being targeted are hefty, with an investigation costing £11,250 (US$16,940) on average and attracting a penalty of at least £8,000, reports Worldpay. Additionally, there is also the cost of lost goods and damage to reputation.
The company reports that in 2014, businesses in the entertainment, hobby and leisure industries accounted for 23.3% of card data breaches, followed by clothing and footwear stores (16.3%) and jewellery, beauty products and gift suppliers (11.6%).
Firms operating in the entertainment sector, particularly those with online ticket booking systems, are vulnerable due to the number of transactions they process.
During the average data breach in the period 2011-14, hackers harvested 284 days’ worth of card details before their activities were discovered.
“Businesses today face tougher challenges while striving to stay as safe as possible in this new age of online operations,” said Richard Cassidy, a technical director at cloud security company Alert Logic.
“Attacks are proliferating at an unprecedented rate, and we are seeing a shift from the ‘smash and grab’ of old to more advanced persistent attacks, where organised hacker groups are taking far more time and effort in infiltrating their targets than ever before.”
However, a London summit on the industry’s introduction of the technology cautions that testing and acceptance are still at an early stage and firms should proceed with caution.
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