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The Retail Nightmare Before Christmas

Eric Russo | | November 27, 2018

The holidays are the best time for customers to go on shopping sprees and a critical time for most retailers. Research shows that the holiday season accounts for as much as one-third of online and brick-and-mortar retailers’ annual sales.

But it’s also one of the best times for hackers to take advantage of weak database structures and infiltrate systems to steal sensitive data, trigger outages, or even spark ransomware attacks. That’s why it’s important to ensure your online store or storefront is ready for the heavy holiday traffic and potential threats the holiday season brings.

It’s important to know what’s out there and how to avoid any holiday mayhem that can offset your profit potential. Here are a few retail nightmares to avoid before Christmas (and how to fix them if it happens to you).

1. POS Problems

Overloaded point of sales (POS) systems are retail nightmares you want to avoid especially during the holidays. Overloaded POS systems disrupt payment collection and can cause security risks. Modern POS malware can mask network infiltration, flood systems, and even communicate directly with exfiltration servers to extract sensitive customer card information in real-time before it’s encrypted.

That’s why it’s crucial to prevent these issues by ensuring your databases are set to handle the holiday load and use the best practice of real-time monitoring and an assessment of performance. You can leverage a database health check and assessment, such as the one provided by Datavail. Datavail’s health assessment provides a deep-dive evaluation of your systems, including performance, security, and configuration of databases and servers.

2. DDoS-Triggered Outage

When your databases are offline, and your site is down, that means you can’t make money. Today’s hackers make this happen by flooding your online resources using botnets to spark distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks to trigger outages. Research shows that DDoS attacks are popular during the holiday season, including Black Friday, and it’s common for hackers to require a ransom to restore your services.

With retailers seeing “billion-dollar” days during the holiday season, there’s too much to risk in potential revenue loss if a DDoS-triggered outage throws your site offline. Thus, it’s crucial to employ best practices, such as leveraging an expert’s help to perform real-time security monitoring of site performance and security threats.

A great solution is to use expert database administrators (DBAs) who can run tests and evaluate your database properly. For example, Datavail’s team of senior DBAs conduct in-depth scans of your databases to ensure no malware or vulnerabilities exist and help you implement strategies to balance the load of site traffic and enhance site performance.

3. Vulnerabilities

Unchecked systems lead to big problems, and the massive data breach of Target Stores was a prime example. Hackers stole customer card data by infiltrating Target’s databases and servers by exploiting a vulnerability in its vendor’s POS system. This resulted in the compromise of 110 million people’s data and cost Target $162 million.

One of the issues with this is that Target regarded initial alerts as false positive alerts. Research indicates that companies regard just 28 percent of the security alerts they receive as valid. Moreover, it’s overwhelming for a small team to manually check these alerts to verify their legitimacy. However, you can use around-the-clock database monitoring and backup and recovery services to validate alerts and identify and resolve vulnerability issues.

Datavail’s 24x7 support makes this possible with its next-level remote and on-site DBA support. It’s why a top gaming retailer uses Datavail’s services to handle key database issues for the holidays and beyond. By performing ongoing monitoring, quarterly performance checks, and flexible on-site support, and catching up on database maintenance and patches, this gaming retailer ensures it keeps vulnerabilities at bay.

Get Your Database Assessment

Being unprepared for the heavy holiday traffic can slow down sales and leave you subject to vulnerabilities. Avoid being another cautionary retail tale. Get a database assessment from Datavail now.

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