E-commerce Security in the Cloud: Safeguarding Data in the Holiday Season

By Dan Benjamin
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By Dan Benjamin, CEO and Co-Founder, Dig Security

The holiday sales season is the most important time of year for e-commerce retailers, representing a time of heightened consumer activity and potential revenue growth. Retailers are forced to maintain security while balancing the consumer demand for fast purchases and continually updating content. E-commerce platforms have embraced cloud technologies to handle the high-traffic surges and rapid development necessary to stay competitive and appealing to customers.

Part of that appeal goes beyond just offering a product to assuring consumers that their data is secure when they shop online. Today’s consumer is more aware of how their data is protected than ever, with 62% of people lacking confidence in their data security with retailers. For many consumers, how well a retailer protects their sensitive information directly impacts their willingness to continue business with them. In the US alone, 83% of consumers will stop doing business with a company for several months after a breach. In the competitive holiday market, a failure to adequately protect data can significantly impact sales, pushing customers to competitors.

The Holiday E-Commerce Landscape

The Holiday E-Commerce Landscape is a critical chapter that sheds light on the intricate dynamics of the holiday sales season in online retail. During this festive period, merchants must be at the top of their game to harness the full potential of consumer spending. As Black Friday and other festive occasions approach, there’s a remarkable uptick in online shoppers, with statistics revealing that half of consumers now prefer the convenience of online shopping over traditional brick-and-mortar stores.

Many e-commerce retailers have embraced cloud technologies as their business’s foundation. This has given them many advantages in rapid development and scalability to meet the surge in demand. However, this reliance on cloud technology also introduces additional security risks, particularly as retailers handle and process increasing volumes of sensitive data like personally identifiable information (PII) during the holiday season. Cybercriminals strongly desire this data, which is a prime target for activities such as identity theft and fraud.

Cyber attackers are increasingly sophisticated in their methods, targeting retailers’ digital infrastructures to exploit vulnerabilities. They specifically focus on data that is unprotected and which can be ransomed for a high price. The complexity of cloud environments can often result in critical security controls being overlooked, inadvertently facilitating these cyber attacks. For instance, inadequate access controls can leave customer data vulnerable to unauthorized access, as evidenced by incidents involving storage buckets with sensitive data being inadvertently exposed to the public. In the rush for rapid development, many retailers depend on the default security settings provided by their cloud service, which may not be sufficient against advanced cyber threats. This oversight can lead to risks such as insufficient encryption for data both at rest and in transit, increasing the potential for data interception and breaches.

To mitigate these risks, retailers must modify how they approach cloud security. It is not about a single solution or control but rather about developing a comprehensive security strategy based on best practices and high-value solutions, forming a strong defense to deter cybercriminals.

Understanding the Risk

Retailers storing customer data face inherent risks; a single system vulnerability can lead to massive data breaches. Inadequately encrypted data, storage buckets without proper authentication, or poorly secured databases can quickly become entry points for hackers. Similarly, failing to comply with data privacy regulations like GDPR or CCPA can lead to hefty fines and legal complications. The consequences of such breaches are not just financial; they severely damage consumer trust and brand reputation, often with long-lasting effects. Protecting consumer data extends beyond mere compliance, requiring a proactive and comprehensive approach to cybersecurity and privacy practices.

Following Best Practices

Fortunately, some best practices can be adopted to quickly and efficiently add protection to existing cloud infrastructure.

  • Secure Cloud Configurations: To enhance e-commerce security, adopting hardened baseline images for cloud infrastructure is recommended. These images ensure a consistent and compliant setup across the network, significantly reducing the risk of vulnerabilities resulting from manual configurations or misconfigurations.
  • Robust Access Control and Identity Management: Implementing stringent identity and access management policies, including multi-factor authentication (MFA) and the principle of least privilege (PoLP), ensures that only authorized personnel can access sensitive data. This approach mitigates the risk of unauthorized data access and breaches.
  • Encryption of Sensitive Data: Encrypting data, whether at rest or in transit, is a fundamental practice for safeguarding sensitive information. This encryption makes the data inaccessible and unreadable to unauthorized parties, protecting it from breaches and unauthorized access.
  • Implementing Data Security Posture Management (DSPM) and Data Detection and Response (DDR): DSPM and DDR provide a holistic approach to data security. DSPM plays a crucial role in identifying, classifying, and assessing data risks while ensuring compliance with security policies. DDR enhances this by offering real-time monitoring and threat detection, quickly identifying and responding to potential security incidents.
  • Secure Payment Processing Systems: Implementing secure and Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) compliant payment gateways is a pivotal strategy in e-commerce security. This practice not only safeguards customer payment information during transactions but also significantly reduces the retailer’s risk by offloading the storage of sensitive data to a third party.

Holiday Data Assurance

Data is consistently the primary target in cyber attacks, so prioritizing data protection through robust access control measures and maintaining secure baseline images in cloud infrastructure is crucial.

Data Security Posture Management (DSPM) helps validate this baseline by assessing existing infrastructure with comprehensive data discovery tactics. These tactics meticulously examine both structured and unstructured data. By conducting thorough data classification and risk assessment, DSPM establishes a security baseline. This process ensures adherence to pertinent regulatory requirements and verifies the implementation of crucial controls, such as encryption. Such proactive measures by DSPM play a pivotal role in safeguarding data and maintaining regulatory compliance.

While establishing a secure foundation is a critical first step, it’s essential to recognize that it doesn’t guarantee perpetual safety in the cloud environment. The threat landscape in the cloud is dynamic and constantly evolving, making it necessary to regularly review and assess the infrastructure throughout its lifecycle.

Regular security monitoring is integral to maintaining ongoing vigilance in data security. Data Detection and Response (DDR) enhances this practice by utilizing an advanced threat model for immediate identification of potential threats. It effectively detects anomalies in data usage or access patterns, often indicators of impending security breaches. Through these audits, DDR assists in the early identification of emerging vulnerabilities and ensures that the infrastructure remains aligned with the latest security policies and standards. This proactive approach is critical to upholding a strong and adaptive security posture.

By integrating the comprehensive baseline assessments provided by DSPM with DDR’s real-time, adaptive risk detection capabilities, retailers operating in cloud environments are equipped with a powerful defense mechanism. This dual approach preserves the integrity and security of sensitive data while navigating the complexities of a perpetually evolving E-Commerce landscape.

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