Safeguarding e-commerce infrastructure against Cyber Threats in the time of COVID-19

Mr Nikos Dimakopoulos, Senior Project Manager, June 2022

E-commerce and the digital economy introduce new opportunities that everyone can use and benefit from. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has rapidly accelerated the shift towards an ever more digital world.

 

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The latest research showed that with Covid-19 coming into the picture, the shopping trend has seen a drastic change [1]. It has been noted that people are buying on average about 10-30% more online [2]. While the other eCommerce businesses have seen around a 50% hike, grocery eCommerce saw a 250% hike which eventually was reduced to 150% higher than the original. Medical sales rose by 500% while travel sales dipped by around 50%. Even subscription services saw a 200% increase in revenue and a 160% increase in conversion rate. Luxury goods and fashion saw a fall in their sales during 2020. It was estimated that retail stores would decline by an average of 60% in the four quarters of 2020 while eCommerce would rise by 20%. Walmart’s eCommerce sales went up by 97% [3] and Amazon recorded a 40% quarterly sales growth [4].

With the shift of commerce to the digital world, the risks have evolved. Nearly 50% rise in e-commerce frauds has been documented. This figure is twice the growth of economic sales. Therefore, cyber security is an important issue in e-commerce and highlights the need to invest in digital security to ensure the ethical use of new technology and data. It should be also noted that AI and ML have prevented over USD 22 billion from cyber theft annually, yet these are only used by a minority of institutions [5]. Based on the aforementioned findings the ENSURESEC project comes to address the whole gamut of modern e-commerce, from standard physical products purchased online and delivered via post, to entirely virtual products or services delivered online by providing a sociotechnical solution that safeguards the Digital Single Market’s e-commerce operations against cyber and physical threats. It addresses threats ranging from maliciously modifying web e-commerce applications or rendering them unavailable to legitimate customers, to delivery issues or fraud committed by insiders or customers.

As ITML´s vision is to deliver products and services close to real customer and market needs, ultimately improving the user experience and the access to technology, it comes to contribute to ENSURESEC’s most important outcome, to provide enhanced tools with advanced cybersecurity features that will be validated on European critical infrastructure such as the e-commerce ecosystem. Within the ENSURESEC Innovation project (H2020 – 883242) ITML led the activities towards the system specifications and technical requirements and in the ENSURESEC context developed the Policy Monitor tool which describes and evaluates the behavior of applications regarding policy models and a Visual Analytics tool for situational awareness succeeding the advancement of its existing products, namely the Security Infusion and the 3ACEs analytic.

 

ENSURESEC project started in June 2020, and its duration is 24 months.

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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 883242

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[1] https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/07/global-consumer-behaviour-trends-online-shopping/

[2] https://www.trade.gov/impact-covid-pandemic-ecommerce

[3] https://techcrunch.com/2020/08/18/pandemic-helped-drive-walmart-e-commerce-sales-up-97-in-second-quarter/

[4] https://press.aboutamazon.com/news-releases/news-release-details/amazoncom-announces-fourth-quarter-results/

[5] Cremer, F., Sheehan, B., Fortmann, M. et al. Cyber risk and cybersecurity: a systematic review of data availability. Geneva Pap Risk Insur Issues Pract 47, 698–736 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41288-022-00266-6