Posted on November 23, 2021 at 8:49 AM
More than 4000 online retailers have received warnings that their eCommerce websites have been compromised by cybercriminals. The hackers have stolen information on sensitive payment details that include payment information and other personal data.
The retailers whose websites have been compromised in this attack were alerted more than 18 months ago. Moreover, the hackers also tried to exploit the vulnerabilities present on the checkout pages to divert payments and steal information.
4151 retailers compromised
The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has noted that following the attack by hackers, the details present on the checkout pages of their websites were stolen, while in some cases, the hackers diverted payments themselves.
The highest percentage of the online shops compromised by cybercriminals were exploited for attacks such as payment skimming. Moreover, the shops were targeted using known vulnerabilities on the Magento e-commerce platform.
Most of the eCommerce platforms targeted in this attack include small and medium-sized businesses. The compromised retailers were alerted about the exploitation before the rollout of the Black Friday shopping festival, which attracted thousands of shoppers to online retail platforms.
The NCSC alerted the businesses that had customer details stolen to improve the security of their websites before users started flocking to these sites during the busy annual shopping event. The body also urged these retailers to ensure that they also protect their customers from cybercriminals.
The deputy director for economy and society at the NCSC spoke of this development, stating, “We want small and medium-sized online retailers to know how to prevent their sites from being exploited by opportunistic cybercriminals over the peak shopping period. Falling victim to cybercrime could leave you and your customers out of pocket and cause reputational damage.”
Online retailers need to employ security measures
Since the onset of the pandemic, many online retailing platforms and online shoppers have been the target of cybercriminals. Hackers target these sites to steal personal data and compromise the payments done to these online platforms.
The hacking attacks on these eCommerce sites affect customers whose details can be used for phishing attacks, where their bank accounts can end up being compromised. The attacks also have a financial impact on the businesses because once the hackers start diverting the payments, the online retailer can suffer a heavy financial impact.
Therefore, online retailers need to invest in strategies to ensure customer data and payments are not stolen from their platforms. One of the things that these online retailers can do is conduct security patches on the vulnerabilities exploited by the hackers.
In this case, the retailer should apply the available patches for the Magento software and any other software that the hackers might use to target these firms. These patches will prevent the hackers from accessing personal details, promoting a more financial impact on the customers and the retailers.
Lyons further noted that “It’s important to keep websites as secure as possible, and I would urge all business owners to follow our guidance and make sure their software is up to date.”
Security patches are one of the most common things online platforms use to ensure vulnerabilities cannot be used against them. However, for this technique to be effective, patches have to be applied promptly, which is among the things recommended by the NCSC and the British Retail Consortium’s Cyber Resilience Toolkit for Retail.
This toolkit was issued in October last year, but it still contains relevant information to help online retailers keep their websites safe and prevent them from being accessed by cybersecurity attackers.
According to the assistant director for consumer, competition and regulatory affairs at the British Retail Consortium, Graham Wynn, “skimming and other cybersecurity breaches are a threat to all retailers. The British Retail Consortium strongly urges all retailers to follow the NCSC’s advice and check their preparedness for any cyber issues that could arise during the busy end-of-year period.”
The recent information regarding the compromised online retailing websites was part of the NCSC’s Active Cyber Defence Programme. This initiative is involved in monitoring the vulnerabilities present on online platforms and which could affect online retailers. The compromised websites are those whose vulnerabilities have been exploited since April last year.
The NCSC has also advised its customers on how to stay safe when shopping on online platforms. Some of the recommendations given by this body include researching about a platform before they start shopping on it. Moreover, the shopper should only provide the necessary information. One should also ensure that the payment system they are using is protected and will keep their online accounts safe.