Skip to main content

Study: Cyber crimes spike in second half of year ahead of holidays season

Zach Russell headshot

With the holiday season here, cyber criminals are using advanced tactics to target retailers and exploit “vulnerabilities.”

Fraud attempts have rapidly increased in the second half of the year, according to Cequence Security’s 2023 Holiday Season API Security Report. While gift card fraud increased by 110% in the second half of 2023, scraping, loyalty card fraud and payment card fraud increased by a collective average of over 700%.

Across its entire customer base, Cequence detected malicious traffic from 719 million unique IP addresses and 325 million malicious login attempts from June to November 2023, highlighting the scale of the current cyber threats. Account takeovers (ATOs) increased a staggering 410 times for retailers in the second half of the period analyzed (September - November 2023), with 325 million malicious login or ATO attempts. More than 148 million different browser types (user agents) were observed in the period. ATOs increased more than 50% compared to the previous six-month period. 

Advertisement - article continues below
cyber security
Image credited to Cequence Security.
cyber security
Image credited to Cequence Security.

“The 2023 holiday season exposed a chilling reality: cybercriminals are employing increasingly sophisticated attack methods and meticulously planning months in advance to exploit vulnerabilities,” said William Glazier, director of threat research at Cequence. “This long-term approach allows them to target unprepared retailers and unsuspecting customers, particularly during peak shopping periods. This shift underscores the urgent need for heightened vigilance and proactive security measures throughout the year.”

The report also shows that large numbers of products were added to carts via automated tooling to volumetrically flood systems, purchasing as many in-demand items as possible. Add-to-cart spikes are correlated with product launches, as attackers attempt to monopolize limited-availability items. While these drops or flash sales happen periodically over the course of the year, the frequency typically usually around the holidays.

“To combat sophisticated threats targeting APIs, today’s organizations must fortify their defenses with a holistic security approach that safeguards their APIs throughout their entire lifecycle,” added Glazier. “This includes discovering and cataloging all APIs, ensuring rigorous adherence to industry standards and deploying advanced threat detection and mitigation tools to defend against attacks.”

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds