There’s an argument over when the holiday season officially begins. Some say it’s after Halloween and others argue that the holiday season truly begins the day after Thanksgiving in the U.S. For a select group, the holiday season is a year-round event. Each day, hackers open up presents—or files—containing sensitive consumer data that may be monetized on the dark web.

Even though hackers operate all year, the winter holiday season offers some of the largest prizes of inadequately protected consumer data. According to an Oct. 13 report released by Level 3 Communications, retailers may be the most vulnerable to data breaches this holiday season because of increased sophistication in hacking attacks. 

Much of the sensitive data stolen is consumer credit and payment card data, the report said. Although some companies use chip-card readers, hackers are still able to intrude into retailers networks to steal sensitive payment data, “which can be used for phishing and social engineering,” the report said.

Ori Eisen, CEO of internet security company Trusona Inc. in Scottsdale, Ariz., told Bloomberg BNA Oct. 13 that it is one of the most “profitable times for the bad guys.” The sheer volume of consumer data that is being sent through the market makes it easier for hackers “to sneak through the masses,” he said. “Unfortunately, it is the holiday season for the crooks as well,” Eisen said.

During the holiday season, online retailers may face increased cybersecurity risks due to weak authentication methods.  “Tomorrow is not a better day until we stop using authentication methods that are static,” Eisen said. Instead of requiring users to use longer and convoluted passwords “that just makes their life harder,” online-facing companies should offer two-factor authentication, Eisen said. 

The two-factor screening will help prevent hackers from breaking into sensitive consumer data, Eisen said. This will help both retailers and consumers enjoy the holiday season.


To keep up with the constantly evolving world of privacy and security sign up for the Bloomberg BNA Privacy and Security Update.