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Outsmarting Social Engineering Scams – An Ecommerce Security Priority for 2024


Outsmarting Social Engineering Scams – An Ecommerce Security Priority for 2024

Social engineering scams are a persistent threat leveraging human psychology to exploit trust and manipulate individuals into sharing sensitive information. As the landscape of commerce continues its steady shift towards online platforms, customers routinely divulge their financial details to various eCommerce entities. This prevalence makes the sector a hotbed for phishing, smishing, and other social engineering tactics. As a leading PPC agency and a team of dedicated PPC experts and Google Ads consultants, we’re committed to not only elevating your brand visibility but also ensuring a secure online environment for your business and customers.

As part of our informative mini-series focusing on essential insights for brands in 2024, we’ve compiled these key topics for easy navigation. Simply use the links provided below to swiftly access each of them.

  1. eCommerce Industry Risks: Security Breaches in Data
  2. Logistics and Supply Chain Complications
  3. eCommerce Industry Risks: Vulnerability to Social Engineering Deceptions
  4. Concerns Around Illegally Copied Content
  5. eCommerce Industry Risks: High Volume of Return Requests
  6. Excessive Reliance on Major Digital Platforms like Facebook and Google
  7. eCommerce Industry Risks: Adaptation to Emerging Online Business Models

The scope of these social engineering scams is vast and rapidly expanding. The UK Government’s Cyber Security Breaches Survey of 2022 alarmingly detailed that 83% of organisations that fell victim to cyber attacks in the past year attributed their predicament to phishing attempts. The ramifications of these fraudulent activities can be catastrophic for eCommerce merchants. Beyond the immediate financial implications of compromised funds, merchants are burdened with addressing the grievances of affected customers. Moreover, a single successful scam can trigger a domino effect, proliferating false rumors across social media platforms, dealing a severe blow to brand reputation and jeopardising customer retention.

At PPC Geeks, we recognise the gravity of these challenges and the imperative need for businesses to navigate this evolving landscape securely. Our expertise extends beyond traditional marketing realms, encompassing insights into the future of Google Ads and strategies to fortify online businesses against such threats. Our Google Ads audit reveals vulnerabilities and opportunities to bolster your online presence.

In light of these growing threats, eCommerce players must proactively adopt strategies to thwart social engineering ploys in 2024.

How to Immunise Your Customers Against the Plague of Social Engineering Scams

The scourge of scams and fraud perpetrated against innocent customers has reached epidemic proportions. As custodians of your customers’ trust, it is your solemn duty to protect them from the phishing attempts and social engineering tactics unleashed by cyber-charlatans.

We humbly propose five commandments that shall serve as guiding lights in immunising your customers against the plague of scams:

1. Educate Customers to Identify Scam Tactics

Forewarned is forearmed. The first line of defence is equipping customers to spot social engineering themselves. How can we blame those already beleaguered by scam artists, unless we have first enlightened them? Our path is clear – spread awareness through:

  • Scam awareness guides – Dedicated pages revealing the lurking fraudsters’ tradecraft through case studies of suspicious emails, texts and calls. Share links periodically.
  • Newsletter content – Publish real examples of phishing emails/texts targeting your business. Provide colour commentary on why they are deceitful.
  • Spotlighting legitimate channels – Distinguish clearly your own official communication mediums like phone, email, mobile app etc. from scammer impersonations.
  • Warnings during transactions – Raise alert messages during checkout flows cautioning against calls/messages requesting sensitive user data.

Find out how to establish customer trust in a privacy-first landscape. With familiarity, customers learn to spot social engineering tropes – urgent pleas, too-good-to-be-true offers, threats and deadlines. Educate them on known scam patterns through concrete examples. Forewarned is forearmed.

2. Require Multi-Channel Authentication

Even wary customers may slip up against increasingly cunning tactics. So we must implement multi-factor/multi-channel authentication to approve transactions. Some examples:

  • Login with username+password, transaction confirmation via email OTP
  • Login on app, transaction approval on mobile via biometrics

With payment fraud now requiring both stolen credentials and intercepted OTPs, multi-channel approval erects formidable barriers. We can tailor the exact combination based on usability impact. But the principles remain:

  1. Require approved transactions to pass through separate channels customers uniquely control
  2. Never rely solely on passwords/credentials that can be phished
  3. Use advanced factors like OTPs and biometrics to complement credentials

Adopt this practice, and customers can transact securely even if scammed for login details. The fraudsters must now crack multiple channels to succeed. And we steadily innovate new factors and heuristics to stay ahead. Aside from multi-channel authentication, you can also leverage first-party data through a CRM to better understand your customers, improve your marketing and sales efforts, and enhance the overall customer experience.

3. Artificial Intelligence – Your Vigilant Sentry Against Social Engineering Scams

While customers must stay alert, they cannot be watchful every moment. Artificial intelligence offers tireless 24/7 surveillance, poised to detect the subtle anomalies that signal fraud.

How exactly? By continuously baselining how each customer typically:

  • Uses your services – Sites visited, features used, timings, devices etc.
  • Communicates – Grammar patterns, tone, language quirks.
  • Transacts – Purchase values, frequencies, categories etc.

With this intelligence, AI algorithms can discern even minute deviations from normal patterns. Sudden changes in activity, communication or transactions immediately trigger actions like:

  • Automated authentication requests
  • Alerts for manual reviews
  • Proactive blocking of suspected fraud

Unlike humans, artificial intelligence is tireless and consistent. It scales across all customers and requires no added personnel. And with 24/7 monitoring, early anomalies can be caught before materialising into fraud.

Yet, while impressive, AI remains your servant. Humans still train their models and validate unusual events. This combines artificial and human intelligence into a formidable defence against scams. Embrace AI as a vigilant sentry that never sleeps. Aside from being your vigilant guard against scams, learn how to use quality creative paired with automation to connect with your customers.

Image showing a padlocked computer to illustrate security against social engineering scams

4. Practice the Principle of Least Privilege

Grant employee access only on an as-needed basis. Marketing staff, for instance, rarely need personal customer details. Adopt safeguards like:

  • Restrict access to sensitive customer data to roles that explicitly require it.
  • Impose checks on exporting or excessive viewing of records.
  • Limit admin powers to selectively override security controls.
  • Revoke departed employee access immediately and proactively.

By minimising insider access, the potential damage from compromised credentials or malice is reduced substantially. Social engineers must work far harder to obtain data.

5. Instill a Security-First Culture

Technology alone cannot secure a business. Its people ultimately define its character. Invest in cultivating an organisational culture where security consciousness can thrive. For example:

  • Train staff extensively to identify and handle social engineering attempts.
  • Educate on securing customer data in daily roles and maintaining online boundaries.
  • Encourage reporting of potential incidents without chastisement.
  • Foster transparency, collective ownership and openness around security.

An empowered, responsible culture is the ultimate bulwark. It ensures the organisation stays secure from the inside out, despite external threats besieging the gates. Prioritise cultural nurturing alongside technical defences.

Stand United, Stand Secure

United we stand, divided we fall. Scammers exploit fissures and silos – technical and human – to infiltrate our defences. Close these gaps with holistic safeguards blending technology and culture. With silos being a weakness that social engineers target for scams, discover also how you can break down silos with cross-channel sales.

Restrict access, but also empower those with responsibility. Automate controls, yet instill mindfulness. Remain diligent without paranoia. Balance both pillars and security shall prevail from within.

We must sometimes look inward to progress forward. And within our people, we shall find hope for the future.

Beyond the Top 5: Ensuring PCI Compliance – The Bedrock of Payment Security

Beyond the vital five priorities, PCI compliance remains non-negotiable. The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) governs the secure handling of financial data across networks.

Compliance indicates payment gateways adhere to critical best practices including:

  • Encryption of cardholder data
  • Regular vulnerability testing
  • Access controls and activity monitoring

This minimises risks when transmitting customer card details between various touchpoints and partners.

Conversely, non-validated payment partners considerably amplify social engineering and breach risks. Their oversights become your exposures. Their consequences ultimately tarnish associated merchants.

Hence rigorous PCI compliance provides the essential bedrock for payment security. It is the price of entry for guarding financial data.

Assess Beyond Compliance Checkboxes

However, technical compliance alone is insufficient. Assess gateways holistically on:

  • Their security philosophy and posture
  • Transparency and willingness to be audited
  • Response protocols for handling incidents

Keep asking – “Beyond checklists, how do they demonstrate security responsibility?”

An exemplary PCI partner enthusiastically reassures while bringing expertise to the table. They become your trusted advisor, not just a vendor.

Choose gateways representing shared values of openness, trust and collective vigilance. That is the path to PCI compliance with conscience.

The Ongoing War on Social Engineering

With global annual losses to cybercrime projected to top $10.5 trillion by 2025, social engineering poses an existential threat to eCommerce. However, a multilayered security approach focused on people, processes and technology can counter this menace.

Invest in customer awareness, multi-factor authentication, AI-based anomaly detection, least privilege access and security culture pays dividends. Proactivity is key against dynamically evolving scam tactics. Compliance and governance must also underscore operations.

Ultimately, this is about building customer trust. Ecommerce businesses that tackle social engineering risks head-on will gain a distinct competitive edge. As digital commerce accelerates into 2024, a mature, resilient security posture is non-negotiable. The time for action is now.


May Dayang

I am an expert administrative professional with a strong background in marketing. Exceptionally skilled in organizing, planning, and managing tasks

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