Free Shipping Day Equals Network Security Nightmare

The network security nightmare that is Black Friday to Cyber Monday has now passed, but Free Shipping Day is not much better for IT security professionals. They now have to cope with another of the busiest online shopping days of the year.

Fortunately, Free Shipping Day is tomorrow, Friday 16th December. That means the weekend starts the day after. It will be needed. Free Shipping Day means long hours need to be put in by IT security professionals! Spam emails are likely to arrive by the bucket load as the scammers take advantage of so many consumers buying online.

The cost of shipping can be expensive. Even very low priced items are not such a bargain when postage and packaging charges have been added. Shoppers finally find an ideally priced gift item for Christmas that is still in stock, available in the right color and size, and then they are hit with a massive shipping charge. Free Shipping Day removes any uncertainty.

Purchase from any of the 2,000+ U.S. retailers who take part, and you can forget about shipping charges. You can purchase in confidence knowing that the price displayed next to the product is all you will have to pay.

The day is a fairly new initiative to get consumers to spend more, but tomorrow is not a holiday. That means online shopping will have to take place from work. Wait until the evening and you will not pay postage charges, but will there be anything left to buy?

Many employees are banned from online shopping websites at work but, even with a ban in place, Free Shipping Day often proves too much of a temptation. Research shows that more money is spent online during working hours than any other time, so many employees are using work computers for online shopping – even if it is not allowed by employers.

Interestingly, research from AOL suggests 20% of workers use work time to do shopping or view pornography. Employers may allow a little of the former, but certainly don’t permit the latter. Yet that still happens.

Regardless which is chosen, both are a nightmare for network security professionals. Shopping websites and adult sites are targeted by malvertisers who are attracted by the high traffic that the sites receive. Malvertisers place adverts on the sites through legitimate advertising networks. They then direct users to malicious websites. A busy online shopping day means a busy day for online criminals.

Employers and their IT departments must be particularly vigilant for inappropriate Internet use and must keep a close eye on the websites that employees are visiting. A malware infection acquired from a malicious website could compromise a computer or, worse still, the network.

A recent survey conducted by Robert Half Technology indicates 23% of CIOs do allow employees some online shopping time at work; although those employers often monitor the visited sites and check to make sure staff are not wasting an excessive amount of time on personal matters.

Employees are happier without Draconian bans on Internet use and happy employees are generally more productive. However, to make sure this privilege is not abused and networks are not placed at risk, companies need to implement web filtering solutions.

This is an important precaution. Over 431 million adults became victims of cybercriminal activity this year. The cost to business is estimated to be $114 billion per year.