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6+ Cybersecurity Tips To Protect Your Customers During Holiday Shopping



6+ Cybersecurity Tips To Protect Your Customers During Holiday Shopping

As the pervasive shadow of Covid-19 recedes and slowly becomes a memory, many of the technologies and protocols we developed during that time remain. Global eCommerce retail sales have always experienced an annual incline. However, these figures have been boosted as more consumers have adopted online shopping and abandoned traditional brick-and-mortar stores.

With more shoppers online, cybercriminals are sure to become bolder and more opportunistic too. While consumers must practice proper cyber hygiene and protect themselves on the internet, eCommerce store owners are also responsible for ensuring that shoppers’ private information stays safe.

But how? What steps should you take to protect your customers during the holiday shopping season? This guide will share six cybersecurity tips you can implement starting now.

Why Is Cybersecurity Crucial for the Shopping Season?

A 2021 Verizon report revealed that 46% of all cyber breaches impacted small businesses. Due to the high cost of a breach in the form of fines and damage to their reputation, many of these businesses are now facing bankruptcy.  

However, the most alarming statistic is that over a quarter of small businesses collecting credit card information have subpar cybersecurity or no security at all. With cyberattacks forecasted to spike during this holiday shopping season, eCommerce store owners must pay attention to their cybersecurity measures as much as they do to their marketing campaigns. But what should you look out for?

Most Common Cyberattacks Affecting eCommerce Businesses

The most popular exploits today include:

  • Account takeover (ATO): Cybercriminals use stolen usernames and passwords to take over accounts. For eCommerce stores and businesses, this could be employee or administrative credentials to log into servers or client machines. Once the bad actor breaches the company’s network, they can gain access to the databases where confidential customer information is kept. They can then steal this information, sell it to the highest bidder or use it for nefarious purposes.
  • Gift card and wallet fraud: There are numerous ways cybercriminals and fraudsters can initiate these types of exploits. They can hack into a company’s gift card database and scrape card and activation numbers. Alternatively, they can tamper with physical gift cards or attempt to use gift card number generators. Your business must be mindful of this potential entry point.
  • Inventory exhaustion: Some online stores remove the item from the available inventory when customers add it to their shopping cart. This reserves the item for them, so it’s still available when they finally check out. Cybercriminals can use bots to initiate a hoarding attack. A bot will constantly add items to a shopping cart to create the illusion that it is out of stock. This denies the sale of the item for petty purposes or so that the bad actor can purchase it themselves when they can afford to.
  • Bandwidth choking (DDoS attacks): Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks are one of the oldest tricks in the book. This is where a bad actor floods a website or web service with network traffic to overload and crash it, although it can happen to small online stores too.
  • Content scraping: Cyberattackers may use bots to extract or copy all of your website’s content that they can use maliciously. For instance, they can duplicate your website and divert organic traffic from it, then use your website’s clone to steal information from your customers.

Cybersecurity Tips To Protect Your eCommerce Customers

So how can you protect your company and customers from the above attacks this coming holiday season?

1. Enforce Strong, Unique User Passwords

Many eCommerce stores require users to create accounts before they can make purchases. A 2021 GoodFirms survey found that 30% of breaches could be traced back to weak password policies and practices. Generally, the less complex a password is, the more susceptible it is to brute-force attacks. Your business must enforce strong password policies both internally (employees and administrators) and externally (customer profiles).

Here are a few characteristics of a strong password:

  • Unique and different from your other login credentials
  • Uses a mixture of uppercase and lowercase letters, symbols, and numbers
  • At least eight characters long
  • Does not contain any personal information, such as dates of birth or names of relatives/pets

Using strong passwords is one of the most important cybersecurity tips, and it’s critical that your business enforces this policy. It is also recommended that users (both your customers and employees) utilize a password manager.

2. Establish Cybersecurity Policies

Good cybersecurity awareness can thwart most exploits initiated by bad actors. Being able to identify fraudulent links and other phishing exploits is more valuable than trying to find a software solution that addresses all your cybersecurity concerns.

You and your employees must be updated on the latest cybersecurity practices and protocols. Consider hiring an expert who can walk you through the best practices. Your cybersecurity policies should be informed by the data privacy rules and regulations of the territories your business operates in. For instance, if you’re operating in the EU, you must be educated on the GDPR. If you’re operating within California, you should understand the rules of the California Consumer Privacy Act.

Any business that deals with payment information and credit cards must ensure that it is PCI-DSS compliant. The official PCI security standards council site has a list of guidelines to help companies keep confidential customer data as safe as possible.  

3. Implement Additional Authentication

Concepts such as two-factor and multi-factor authentication have become extremely popular in recent years. Multi-factor authentication means implementing an additional form of authentication in addition to your user credentials. For example, after entering a username and password, you may choose to verify the login attempt through an email link or one-time code sent to a user’s phone.  

4. Only Store Customer Data That You Need

Guidelines and regulations such as the GDPR don’t specify a time limit for how long you can keep a customer’s personal information. However, it’s important that you only store data that you need to provide services to the customer for as long as you need it.

It’s also important that you segment databases and data according to their importance. Credit card and payment information should be kept separate from general customer information and your business information. All data must be placed in secure encrypted databases.    

5. Employ a DDoS Mitigation Solution

DDoS and other bot-related attacks can be mitigated through the right solution. However, you should first ensure that you have a disaster recovery site in place. If your attacker manages to shut your site down, you can roll the traffic over to a recovery site. Of course, this doesn’t always work, especially if the attack is DNS based.

Alternatively, you can purchase a dedicated server to prevent DDoS and bot attacks. Sometimes, your ISP or cloud provider may offer integrated DDoS protection. Do not hesitate to add this feature to the list of services. While bot-mitigating solutions such as CAPTCHA have been shown to decrease conversion rates, they’ve been proven to be somewhat effective against spam and bot attacks.

That said, cybercriminals have begun using more sophisticated tactics, such as machine learning to circumvent CAPTCHA checks. With cloud-based platforms and integrated memory systems being the driving force of machine learning adoption, more cybercriminals will have access to these tools.

As such, it’s important to implement a multi-channel mitigation solution. For instance, your mitigation solution should be able to detect any suspicious traffic coming from a visitor’s IP address. It should also be able to track any questionable customer activity, such as adding items to carts but not checking out.

6. Conduct Regular Software Audits

Your business should be employing all the necessary software tools to facilitate proper cybersecurity, including anti-malware solutions, firewalls, user account management tools, etc. You can hire a zero trust expert to help determine what software will suit your network infrastructure the best.

You also need to monitor your software stack and ensure that your operating systems, productivity/business software and cybersecurity software are all updated to the latest versions. This process can be made easier with cloud panels and workload automation software.


Many of the cybersecurity tips listed in this guide should be implemented regardless of the upcoming holiday shopping season. Nevertheless, your website and servers must be able to handle the usage influxes and traffic spikes that will be brought on by the holiday shopping season. One of the best ways to ensure holiday sales are not interrupted is to have multiple recovery sites to mitigate any downtime.

Next, your company must ensure that it’s up to date on the latest cybersecurity and network protection developments. You can only protect your customers if you protect yourself first.

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Take back your ROI by owning your data



Treasure Data 800x450

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Other brands can copy your style, tone and strategy — but they can’t copy your data.

Your data is your competitive advantage in an environment where enterprises are working to grab market share by designing can’t-miss, always-on customer experiences. Your marketing tech stack enables those experiences. 

Join ActionIQ and Snowplow to learn the value of composing your stack – decoupling the data collection and activation layers to drive more intelligent targeting.

Register and attend “Maximizing Marketing ROI With a Composable Stack: Separating Reality from Fallacy,” presented by Snowplow and ActionIQ.

Click here to view more MarTech webinars.

About the author

Cynthia RamsaranCynthia Ramsaran

Cynthia Ramsaran is director of custom content at Third Door Media, publishers of Search Engine Land and MarTech. A multi-channel storyteller with over two decades of editorial/content marketing experience, Cynthia’s expertise spans the marketing, technology, finance, manufacturing and gaming industries. She was a writer/producer for and produced thought leadership for KPMG. Cynthia hails from Queens, NY and earned her Bachelor’s and MBA from St. John’s University.

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Revolutionizing Auto Retail: The Game-Changing Partnership Between Amazon and Hyundai



Revolutionizing Auto Retail: The Game-Changing Partnership Between Amazon and Hyundai

Revolutionizing Auto Retail The Game Changing Partnership Between Amazon and Hyundai

In a groundbreaking alliance, Amazon and Hyundai have joined forces to reshape the automotive landscape, promising a revolutionary shift in how we buy, drive, and experience cars.

Imagine browsing for your dream car on Amazon, with the option to seamlessly purchase, pick up, or have it delivered—all within the familiar confines of the world’s largest online marketplace. Buckle up as we explore the potential impact of this monumental partnership and the transformation it heralds for the future of auto retail.

Driving Change Through Amazon’s Auto Revolution

Consider “Josh”, a tech-savvy professional with an affinity for efficiency. Faced with the tedious process of purchasing a new car, he stumbled upon Amazon’s automotive section. Intrigued by the prospect of a one-stop shopping experience, Josh decided to explore the Amazon-Hyundai collaboration.

The result?

A hassle-free online car purchase, personalized to his preferences, and delivered to his doorstep. Josh’s story is just a glimpse into the real-world impact of this game-changing partnership.

Bridging the Gap Between Convenience and Complexity

Traditional car buying is often marred by complexities, from navigating dealership lots to negotiating prices. The disconnect between the convenience consumers seek and the cumbersome process they endure has long been a pain point in the automotive industry. The need for a streamlined, customer-centric solution has never been more pressing.

1701235578 44 Revolutionizing Auto Retail The Game Changing Partnership Between Amazon and Hyundai1701235578 44 Revolutionizing Auto Retail The Game Changing Partnership Between Amazon and Hyundai

Ecommerce Partnership Reshaping Auto Retail Dynamics

Enter Amazon and Hyundai’s new strategic partnership coming in 2024—an innovative solution poised to redefine the car-buying experience. The trio of key developments—Amazon becoming a virtual showroom, Hyundai embracing AWS for a digital makeover, and the integration of Alexa into next-gen vehicles—addresses the pain points with a holistic approach.

In 2024, auto dealers for the first time will be able to sell vehicles in Amazon’s U.S. store, and Hyundai will be the first brand available for customers to purchase.

Amazon and Hyundai launch a broad, strategic partnership—including vehicle sales on in 2024 – Amazon Staff

This collaboration promises not just a transaction but a transformation in the way customers interact with, purchase, and engage with their vehicles.

Pedal to the Metal

Seamless Online Purchase:

  • Complete the entire transaction within the trusted Amazon platform.
  • Utilize familiar payment and financing options.
  • Opt for convenient pick-up or doorstep delivery.
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Hyundai’s Cloud-First Transformation:

  • Experience a data-driven organization powered by AWS.
  • Benefit from enhanced production optimization, cost reduction, and improved security.

Alexa Integration in Next-Gen Vehicles:

  • Enjoy a hands-free, voice-controlled experience in Hyundai vehicles.
  • Access music, podcasts, reminders, and smart home controls effortlessly.
  • Stay connected with up-to-date traffic and weather information.

Driving into the Future

The Amazon-Hyundai collaboration is not just a partnership; it’s a revolution in motion. As we witness the fusion of e-commerce giant Amazon with automotive prowess of Hyundai, the potential impact on customer behavior is staggering.

The age-old challenges of car buying are met with a forward-thinking, customer-centric solution, paving the way for a new era in auto retail. From the comfort of your home to the driver’s seat, this partnership is set to redefine every step of the journey, promising a future where buying a car is as easy as ordering a package online.

Embrace the change, and witness the evolution of auto retail unfold before your eyes.

Revolutionizing Auto Retail The Game Changing Partnership Between Amazon and Hyundai

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How to Schedule Ad Customizers for Google RSAs [2024]



How to Schedule Ad Customizers for Google RSAs [2024]

It’s no wonder that responsive search ads have steadily grown in popularity in recent years. Through Google’s machine learning capabilities, RSAs provide a powerful way to automate the testing of multiple headlines and descriptions to ensure a closer match to user intent. The benefits are clear: RSAs mean broader reach, better engagement, and improved performance metrics.

However, all these benefits come at a significant (but reasonable) cost – they can be extremely difficult to manage, especially when it comes to updating ad copy to promote limited time offers.

I know this firsthand – I work with several ecommerce clients with promotions that constantly change. Not too long ago, I found myself going through the consistently tedious process of updating a client’s RSA headlines and copy. As I was making the changes, I thought to myself: “There must be a better way to update this ad copy. I shouldn’t have to use find and replace so many times while pausing and enabling my ad campaigns.”

After expressing this to my colleague, Jordan Stambaugh, the two of us agreed there must be a better way. But we’d have to make it happen. A few weeks later, we put that idea into action and created a more efficient process for updating RSA ad copy on a scheduled basis. If you want to try this process for yourself, just keep reading.

Responsive Search Ad Customizers 101: Basic Options & Execution

Before diving into the process of scheduling automatic updates for your RSA customizers, it’s essential to understand some key Responsive Search Ad fundamentals.

First, you can customize three main options within RSAs: the Attribute Name, the Data Type, and the Account Value. Each of these plays a vital role in personalizing your ads:

  • Attribute Name: This is essentially the identifier for the customizer. It is how you’ll reference the specific piece of information you’re customizing within the ad. For instance, if you’re running a promotion, you might name an attribute “Promotion.”
  • Data Type: This indicates the kind of data the attribute represents and it determines how the information can be formatted and used within the ad. Common data types include Text (for plain, non-numeric text), Percent (to represent percentage discounts), Price (to denote monetary values), and Number (for any numerical value).
  • Account Value: This is the default value for the attribute that you set at the account level. It acts as a fallback if more specific values aren’t provided at the campaign or ad group level.

For example, if you wanted to promote a 10% off discount using RSAs, you’d use the “Discount” attribute, a data type of “Percent,” and an account value of “10% off.” Then, when someone is searching for products, Google would test automatically inserting a copy regarding a 10% off promotion into your ad.

Once you’ve set up the right customization options, you can start to format your RSAs with customizers.

Here’s how:

  • Start by typing in {
  • Click on Ad Customizer then select your attribute
  • Google will populate your attributes that are already uploaded
  • For a simple offer, use the “Default text” attribute as a catch-all. This will ensure your ads run smoothly if Google can’t pull the right messaging from your RSA feed



How to Schedule Your Ad Customizers with a Feed

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s cover how to schedule your ad customizers.

Just follow this three step process:

1. Create the feed

Start by creating two sheets: The Parent sheet, and the Child sheet. The “Parent” sheet will act as the primary data source, while the child sheet will pull data from the parent sheet.

We’ll start by building the parent sheet. After opening the sheet, start by renaming the active tab to “Promotions.” Don’t skip this step, it’s crucial for referencing this range in formulas later on.

In your “Promotions” tab, head to the top row and label columns A, B, and C with the headers of your ad customizer attributes. For example, you might have “BrandSaleHeadline” as your attribute in column A, “text” as the Data Type in column B, and “Shop the Collection” as the Account Value in column C.

Once your headers are in place, move to cell C2. Here, you’ll input the expression =lookup(today(),F:G,E:E). This formula will play a key role in dynamically updating your RSA customizer based on the current date.

Next, go to columns E, F, and G, which will be used to manage your scheduling. In these columns, you’ll list out the different values your chosen attribute might take, alongside their corresponding start and end dates. For example, under the “BrandSaleHeadline” attribute, you might schedule various promotional headlines to appear during different sale periods throughout the year.

Here’s how your sheet might look:

Now look back at the first 3 columns on your sheet. They should look like this:

Now create a second sheet. We’ll call this sheet the Child sheet. It’s going to automatically pull in data from the parent sheet you just created, and will be the one you link to Google Ads later on.

Columns A, B and C will be almost identical to the child sheet, but we will be using a special formula later so we can automatically populate this. So, start by labeling Row 1 Column A “Attribute,” then the next column as “Data type,” then column C as “Account value.” 

Then go to C2 and use this expression to populate the right account value from the parent document: =importrange(“[PARENT DOCUMENT URL HERE]”,”Promotions!C2″)

Your sheet should now look like this:

We recommend adding a date range with default text for any days you’re  not running a promotion. In the example above, we have “Shop Our Collection” appearing as default text.

2. Input attributes

Once you have your feed created, the next step involves inputting your attributes into the Google Ads platform. This can be done either manually or through a bulk upload.

For the manual approach, navigate to “Tools & Settings” in your Google Ads interface, then go to ‘Setup’ followed by “Business Data.” Here, you’ll find an option for “Ad Customizer Attributes.” Click the plus sign to add your attributes. It’s crucial to use the same attribute names that you’ve established in your Parent Google Sheet template to ensure consistency and proper data synchronization.



Alternatively, if you prefer the bulk upload method, again head to “Tools & Settings.” This time, select “Bulk Actions” and then “Uploads.” For this process, you only need to upload columns A to C from your template. 

Be aware that it might take some time for your uploaded attributes to be reflected in the business data section of Google Ads.

3. Set up an automatic schedule

At this point, you’ve almost finished scheduling your ad customizers. Navigate to Tools & Settings, then Bulk Actions, then Uploads, then click the Schedules tab at the top. Select your Child Google Sheet as the data source, and share your Google Sheet with the appropriate email.



And there you have it – Google will automatically pull in the data you populated in the sheets into your RSAs.

Common Challenges When Scheduling RSA Ad Customizers

When we test these sheets with our clients in the wild, we’ve uncovered five common challenges. Be on the lookout for these issues – solving them before they happen can save you a lot of trouble down the line.

Not scheduling your upload when the site changes 

The first and most significant hurdle is the mismatch between the scheduled data upload and website content updates. For instance, if the Google Sheet is set to upload at 11 am, but the website changes occur at 3 pm, there’s going to be a discrepancy where the wrong message could be displayed for several hours, or new messaging could appear prematurely. Conversely, if the website updates happen before the scheduled sheet upload, outdated promotions might linger until the new data is imported. Synchronizing these schedules is crucial; it’s best to align them so updates occur simultaneously.

Skipping QA during a message change

Another pitfall is neglecting quality assurance (QA) during message updates. It’s vital to regularly check the business data section to verify that the correct values are in place post-update.

Issues with the IMPORTRANGE function

Then there’s the technical aspect of setting up the IMPORTRANGE function correctly in the Google Sheets template. The ‘child’ template must reliably pull data from the ‘parent’ sheet. If this function isn’t configured correctly, data won’t be imported as needed.

Not sharing access of the Google template for automatic uploads

Pay attention to your access permissions for the Google Sheets template. Google will prompt you with the email address that needs permission to access the ‘child’ sheet for automatic uploads. Overlooking the sharing of your sheet with this address will prevent the system from working.

Having date range gaps in your parent sheet

Lastly, a common oversight is leaving date range gaps in the ‘parent’ sheet. Every single date must be accounted for without overlaps. A practical tip is to have an ‘evergreen’ backup message ready, scheduled to run continuously, ideally through the end of the year, to cover any potential gaps.


Leveraging Google Sheets in conjunction with Google Ads to schedule RSA ad customizers is a game-changer for managing dynamic promotional content. This process not only streamlines your workflows but also ensures that your ads remain relevant and up-to-date, reflecting current promotions without the need for constant manual intervention. 

By adopting this method, you’ll save significant time and effort, allowing you to focus more on strategy and less on the minutiae of ad copy updates. Give it a try and experience a more efficient way to manage your RSAs, keeping your campaigns fresh and engaging with minimal hassle.

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