Could This Cyber Grinch Ruin Your Holiday Shopping?

thezootsewt/ October 24, 2016/ Cyber Defense, IoT/ 0 comments

Where Have All the Presents Gone?

Picture this – beautiful snow-crested hills that lead to a charming house decorated tastefully with the colors of the season.  Inside the house is a crackling fire, warm cider and nog; a festive tree grandly declares holiday cheer.  But then you notice the sad-faced children.  You realize something is missing – no presents under the tree.  Why?  The Cyber Grinch could be afoot.

The holiday shopping season will be quickly upon us! Cyber Monday is quickly approaching, Amazon and other online retailers are ramping up staff and inventory, FedEX and UPS are ready to play their role as Santa to many families.  What if this all came to a screeching halt this year?   What if the online shopping season utterly shutdown?  Impossible you say?  It is possible, and it could easily become reality unless cyber security experts are able to ferret out the cyber Grinch and make him gone for good.

Grinch – Spelled DDoS

Perhaps you heard, or even experienced, the massive disruption to popular websites earlier this week.  Paypal, The Wallstreet Journal, Amazon, and many others were unreachable for many residents of the US East Coast.  Several days after the attack, it is still unclear exactly who is responsible.  What is even more troublesome is the possibility that the attackers chose to stop the attack by their own accord.  It is likely that the cyber defenses of many companies and websites were unable to thwart an attack of this magnitude.  The threat is still out there and could be turned on at any moment.

The threat in this case is a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack.  In short, a DDoS occurs when millions of infected computers, thermostats, cameras, and devices begin to mindlessly blast junk data at a particular target.  The target is unable to cope with the vast amounts of junk data and can no longer service legitimate users.

Maximum Economic Disruption

If an attacker wanted to cause maximum economic disruption to the US using a massive DDoS attack, it is likely that the attacker would unleash his bad bits during the holiday shopping season.  Consider this scenario: A massive DDoS attack occurs possibly on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, preventing millions of customers from placing orders during some of the busiest shopping days of the year.  Further, consider if the attacker then turned to the major shipping companies – FedEx/UPS/USPS – and disrupted their operations through a series of DDoS attacks.  Delays in the supply chain, delays in ordering, delays in delivery could all spell disaster for some businesses and major revenue losses for others.

Thwart the Cyber Grinch

If this scenario does become a reality this year, how can you stay ahead of the curve and thwart the cyber Grinch?

  1. Place your Orders Early!  Ordering prior to Black Friday will give additional days to help ensure your gifts are delivered.
  2. Prepare Outgoing Shipments Now.
  3. Have a Backup Plan.
  4. Don’t Help the Grinch – Make sure all of your computers, and internet connected devices are properly secured and not participating in DDoS attacks.

[6 Tips to Keep you Safe This Holiday Shopping Season]

Let’s all hope that the recent cyber attacks are not a harbinger of more attacks to come…but if history serves us well, we can be fairly certain that at some point the Grinch will rear his ugly head again.  Let’s be ready when he does.

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