There’s no doubt online shopping has brought a great deal of convenience to consumers. It has also been the key to success for many Australian businesses, however concerns over data breaches, fraudulent activity and online scams have consumers calling for brands to do more to protect them online.

As Australians search for the best deals, scammers are continuously attempting to catch them unaware. In fact, according to recent data from Scamwatch, Australians have lost more than AU$5 million so far this year to online shopping scams, a 35% increase when compared with the same time last year.

Online shopping scams deploy a range of deceptive tactics, including fake websites, fraudulent sellers, misleading advertisements, and fake payment platforms. As more Australians shift to online shopping, the risk of falling victim to scams also increases, putting the trust consumers place in online retailers in jeopardy.

However, it’s not just consumers who are at risk, businesses also suffer from reputational damage when scammers exploit their brand names and logos. To add to the challenge, according Sophos’ State of Ransomware in Retail report, 69 per cent of retail organisations were hit with a ransomware attack in 2022.

Digital retailers are rapidly embracing new channels and platforms, increasing the risk of digital fraud and data breaches for themselves and their customers. This is also the case for brick and mortar retailers, who are rapidly adopting new technologies, which can also lead to new channels for cybercriminals to exploit. With IoT, POS and the next generation of mobile device augmented payment gateways and merchant facilities, attackers have numerous options to target merchants. 

As ransomware attacks and scams continue to grow in volume and complexity, retailers need to ensure their customers are protected. There is a duty of care for businesses to do all they can to protect consumers from falling prey to scammers, and to protect their data. Businesses must prioritise consumer protection and explore the steps they can take to achieve this goal.

By having a solid cybersecurity plan, and actively safeguarding consumers against online shopping scams, businesses showcase their commitment to social responsibility, and are more likely to gain loyalty and trust from Australian consumers. 

Proactive steps for businesses to protect their customers

Cover the basics

Businesses must allocate resources to implement advanced security measures, including SSL encryption, multi-factor authentication, and fraud detection systems. Collaborating with cybersecurity experts can help to stay ahead of evolving scamming techniques. 

Protect yourself and your customers’ data by teaming up with the experts

Cybersecurity services enable retail organisations to avoid disruptions and optimise their security across their online, in-store and back-office systems.  

Experienced threat hunters monitor IT environments 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and help businesses meet regulatory mandates and follow industry best practices, especially when new data privacy regulations are increasing retailers’ compliance burden. 

Educate consumers on scams

Educational campaigns play a crucial role in preventing scams. Businesses can educate consumers about the risks associated with online shopping and provide guidance on identifying and reporting suspicious activities. Regularly updated safety guidelines on websites can serve as a reliable source of information for consumers. 

Collaborate with authorities

Fostering partnerships with law enforcement agencies and consumer protection organisations can create a strong network to combat online shopping scams effectively. By sharing information about emerging threats, businesses can contribute to a safer digital environment. 

Businesses have a pivotal role to play in protecting consumers against online shopping scams and protecting consumer data. By implementing robust security measures and prioritising consumer education, they can build a great deal of trust amongst their customers. Safeguarding consumers is not just a moral responsibility; it is an investment in the longevity and prosperity of the retailer’s business. 

Aaron Bugal is field chief technology officer for Asia Pacific & Japan at Sophos.