Covid-19 has accelerated E-commerce, digital disruption and the adoption of new technologies. The ‘stay at home’ mantra, along with store closures in many countries, means more consumers are ordering goods online, accelerating the uptake of E-commerce. Online demand will remain strong post-pandemic. GlobalData expects the global E-commerce market to reach $5.4 trillion in 2021.

However, growing online activity also increases the potential for cyberattacks. Consumer goods companies are particularly vulnerable due to their connected supply chains and access to sensitive consumer data.

E-commerce and cybersecurity are priority investment areas for consumer goods companies wanting to survive Covid-19 disruptions while safeguarding customer data.

Cybersecurity investment is key for E-commerce in 2021

E-commerce sites contain sensitive customer information, such as home addresses and banking information, making them vulnerable to attacks. Online shopping cart systems have been targeted by cybercriminals, aiming to steal customer payment information.

At the end of 2020, Italian spirit company Campari Group announced a malware attack had infiltrated their servers. The attack compromised employee personal details and potentially compromised the business information and payment details of customers, suppliers, and business partners. This could affect approximately 18,000 contacts.

Campari Group said the attack would only have a temporary effect on its financial performance, as they recovered lost systems. However, the company will suffer reputational damage amongst customers, particularly if the attack results in continued phishing attempts on company contacts.

Connected supply chains require security

Connected supply chains are vulnerable to cyberattacks because they allow access to multiple business units and organizations from one vulnerable entry point. According to a report by VMware Carbon Black, around 50% of attacks use a technique called island hopping, targeting the main organization and other vendors in that company’s supply chain.

This has been the case for ecommerce sites using shopping carts from third-party vendors. Sites using the Magecart system from the Magento platform have been targeted by criminals aiming to steal customer card payment information. Weak points are easier to find and infiltrate in connected supply chains, for example, when websites fail to update their Magento software they are left vulnerable to attacks.

Cyberattacks can compromise customer data

No consumer goods companies are entirely prepared for potential cyberattacks. GlobalData’s thematic scorecard for consumer goods finds Nestle and P+G are the current leaders in the cybersecurity theme, scoring 4 out of a possible 5 according to thematic scoring methodology. However, no companies scored 5, and many scored 2 for cybersecurity, meaning a cyberattack would be detrimental to their business.

Cyberattacks damage consumer trust, which would have a direct impact on company sales, particularly in a saturated market where there are other options for consumers. All consumer goods companies should invest in cybersecurity as a matter of priority.