Vulnerabilities / Threats
12/8/2013
01:31 PM
Tom Parker
Tom Parker
Commentary
50%
50%

Cyber Monday And The Threat Of Economic Espionage

All signs point to such an event becoming a very real possibility

Based on recent predictions by numerous market analysts, Cyber Monday, the online equivalent of the Black Friday shopping event, is well on its way to overtake physical retail sales numbers in coming years.

According to a recent article by Bloomberg, Cyber Monday online sales were up approximately 20% this year, with many consumers preferring the comfort of their couches to fighting the crowds in physical stores, which are synonymous with Black Friday sales. On a related note, sales on Black Friday itself saw their first decline since 2009.

Post-9/11, I was involved in a number of think-tank activities to review what future attacks might "look like," including how cyber may play a future role in state- and terrorist-sponsored attacks against the United States. While seemingly unrelated at the time, one of the more popular scenarios discussed among physical security folks, related to economic espionage, was targeting consumer outlets.

The scenario was pretty straightforward: Terror group X sends individuals/cells with small arms into malls in every major city in the country, creating mass panic, causing retail store purchases to slow to a point at which some of America's largest outlets are hemorrhaging money, and causing harm to the national economy.

According to the National Retail Federation, per ShopperTrak data (which counts foot traffic at malls), Black Friday is the busiest shopping day of the year. Let's now consider life in five, perhaps 10 years' time, where the busiest retail day of the year is no longer in stores, but online.

For the well-equipped and motivated adversary, this no longer becomes a case of frightening customers from the storefront. It's a simple case of denying them access. As we have seen with many of America's largest financial institutions, denial-of-service attacks remain an effective method, which has evidently become the tactic of choice for at least one nation state's cyberoffensive. Taking into consideration the increase in popularity of Cyber Monday, the dollars invested by online sellers in preparing for and supporting the event (think marketing, planning, infrastructure, increased stock purchases, warehousing, etc.), distributed across an economy that is increasingly reliant on the event to make its Q4 numbers, could result in a significant event that negatively impacts consumer confidence, the financial stability of major retailers, and possibly, in turn, the U.S. economy.

Predicting the potential short- and long-term impacts of such an event is a job for economists; however, all signs point to such an event becoming a very real possibility, which those depending on online retail should be seriously contemplating now -- not attempting to handle as it happens, unlike many of the financial institutions earlier this year.

Tom Parker is CTO at FusionX

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Dark Reading Tech Digest, Dec. 19, 2014
Software-defined networking can be a net plus for security. The key: Work with the network team to implement gradually, test as you go, and take the opportunity to overhaul your security strategy.
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-7266
Published: 2015-02-01
Algorithmic complexity vulnerability in Cybozu Remote Service Manager through 2.3.0 and 3.x through 3.1.2 allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (CPU consumption) via vectors that trigger colliding hash-table keys. NOTE: this vulnerability exists because of an incomplete fix for CVE-2...

CVE-2014-7269
Published: 2015-02-01
ASUS JAPAN RT-AC87U routers with firmware 3.0.0.4.378.3754 and earlier, RT-AC68U routers with firmware 3.0.0.4.376.3715 and earlier, RT-AC56S routers with firmware 3.0.0.4.376.3715 and earlier, RT-N66U routers with firmware 3.0.0.4.376.3715 and earlier, and RT-N56U routers with firmware 3.0.0.4.376....

CVE-2014-7270
Published: 2015-02-01
Cross-site request forgery (CSRF) vulnerability on ASUS JAPAN RT-AC87U routers with firmware 3.0.0.4.378.3754 and earlier, RT-AC68U routers with firmware 3.0.0.4.376.3715 and earlier, RT-AC56S routers with firmware 3.0.0.4.376.3715 and earlier, RT-N66U routers with firmware 3.0.0.4.376.3715 and earl...

CVE-2014-8630
Published: 2015-02-01
Bugzilla before 4.0.16, 4.1.x and 4.2.x before 4.2.12, 4.3.x and 4.4.x before 4.4.7, and 5.x before 5.0rc1 allows remote authenticated users to execute arbitrary commands by leveraging the editcomponents privilege and triggering crafted input to a two-argument Perl open call, as demonstrated by shel...

CVE-2014-9200
Published: 2015-02-01
Stack-based buffer overflow in an unspecified DLL file in a DTM development kit in Schneider Electric Unity Pro, SoMachine, SoMove, SoMove Lite, Modbus Communication Library 2.2.6 and earlier, CANopen Communication Library 1.0.2 and earlier, EtherNet/IP Communication Library 1.0.0 and earlier, EM X8...

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
If you’re a security professional, you’ve probably been asked many questions about the December attack on Sony. On Jan. 21 at 1pm eastern, you can join a special, one-hour Dark Reading Radio discussion devoted to the Sony hack and the issues that may arise from it.