According to a new report from content delivery network and web security firm Akamai Technologies Inc., cyberattacks against retailers were on the decline in the fourth quarter of 2016, though that doesn’t mean retailers were free from major security events during the holiday season. Here are some of the key findings.
Akamai analyzed web security data between Nov. 22 and 29, the days surrounding Thanksgiving, meaning the start of the holiday shopping season in the U.S. and likewise the peak time for criminal activity online. First, Akamai Technologies found that web application attacks declined 19 percent year on year in the fourth quarter of 2016.
“The biggest sales season of the year usually signals a marked increase in the number of attacks for all customers, especially retailers,” said Martin McKeay, senior editor of the Akamai report and senior security advocate. “Many merchants breathed a sigh of relief at not being attacked during their most important shopping days. [But] that’s not to say everyone got off without some stress.”
Akamai found that the United States was the largest global target for cybercriminals in the fourth quarter of 2016, with 28 percent of cyberattack volume. The U.S. was followed by the Netherlands, with 17 percent; Germany, with 9.2 percent; and Brazil with 5.5 percent. The United States was also the most prolific source country for web application attacks in the quarter, according to the report. However, these numbers were also in decline — falling 53 percent year on year in the U.S.
By retail segment, the study found that there were four primary categories that contributed to the spike in cyberattacks around the start of the holiday shopping season — apparel and footwear, commerce portals, consumer electronics, and media and entertainment.