From Brad Hoppmann: Did you spend time shopping online yesterday? If you did, you weren’t alone on this “Cyber Monday,” a day when analysts expect shoppers to point, click and spend some $3.36 billion in a single day.
If those expectations are met, it would mean the biggest Cyber Monday sales day ever … and the biggest single-day of holiday shopping in history.
According to digital commerce site Adobe Digital Insights, the expectations for online sales this holiday season are for an 11% year-over-year spending increase to $91.6 billion in total holiday online sales.
That’s a lot of e-commerce spending. It’s also a whole lot of chances for cyber-criminals to get their hands on credit card information, or hack databases, or steal user passwords and/or personal information.
That’s precisely what happened in 2013 with the infamous data breach at Target (TGT) stores, but it’s also happened multiple high-profile times since. And, as the online shopping boom gains prominence as an easy way for Americans to do their holiday (and everyday) shopping, we can expect more of the same going forward.
|Source: comSource, Inc. / Fung Global Retail & Technology|
In researching Cyber Monday shopping trends for today’s article, I saw a great chart at the Forbes.com that showed the year-over-year growth trends in online shopping since the first Cyber Monday in 2005.
Here we see a 16.8% compound annualized growth rate (CAGR) in Cyber Monday sales from 2005 to 2015. This year’s growth will only add to that total CAGR.
Given the convenience, deep retailer discounts, and growing comfort level of consumers willing to shop online, I see this as a growth trend that’s only going to get bigger and bigger in the years to come.
Of course, with the continued growth of online shopping comes the continued threat of cyber-crime, and that means retailers and all kinds of companies with databases of customer information must beef up their defenses against cyber-attacks, and against what I call “Hacktivism.”
Combating the increase in cyber hacking is the job of many different cyber-security firms, many of which can be found in the PureFunds ISE Cyber Security ETF (HACK), an exchange-traded fund (ETF) that holds the world’s top, publicly traded cyber-security firms.
Then there are the traditional technology companies building out their cloud computing and database security capabilities.
One of my favorite non-traditional cyber-security plays is International Business Machines (IBM).
“Big Blue” has developed some very sophisticated cyber-security technology, including artificial intelligence (they call it “Watson”) designed to predict where the next potential cyber-attack will come … before it’s ever launched.
Right now, subscribers to my Cash Flow Kings advisory service are benefitting from the growth of cyber-security firms and their battle against hacktivism, and the average run-of-the-mill cyber-crime.
Finally, while cyber-security firms are helping retailers and database firms safeguard transactional data, the first line of defense against cyber criminals actually starts with you.
If you are going to do some online shopping today, or any day, then be sure to take a few simple precautions that will increase your own security situation.
First, create a unique username and password for all of your online transactions. Make sure it’s not a password that’s easy to hack, such as the actual word “password.”
Second, don’t shop online using public wi-fi. These networks are notorious for being easily hacked, so giving up your credit card information via a public network is just begging to have your account stolen.
Finally, monitor your bank account and/or credit card accounts regularly. If you are hacked, and your bank account or credit card accounts are compromised, the earlier you detect the situation the better off you’ll be.
In fact, I say check your accounts before and after the holiday shopping season just to make sure there’s no unusual activity or erroneous charges. If there is, then contact your bank or credit card issuer immediately.
This article is brought to you courtesy of Uncommon Wisdom Daily.