As more and more people take the digital route to shop, transfer money, socialize and entertain, there is a wealth of data available on the internet. It includes the personally identifiable information of customers as well as critical business data of the businesses.
Businesses harvest customer information to personalize the services and upsell other products or services. However, when cyber criminals are able to access this data, they can exploit it for fraud and many other criminal activities. The easiest way to steal this data is, of course, scraping. Using automation, cyber criminals can scrape volumes of data in no time. There are numerous bots and tools available – cheaply or even for free – on the internet.
Stolen data can be monetized in many ways
Since data is the new oil, cyber criminals are always looking out for ways to monetize this treasure. They can use this data to orchestrate attacks themselves or choose to sell it off in the darknet, to third parties, or business competitors. From the darknet the data is used to fuel many crimes such as customer impersonation. As fake users, cyber criminals can post negative reviews and ratings to cause damage to business reputation.
Third parties or competitors can use this data to learn about business strategies and pricing details that can be detrimental to the business. Further, theft of customer data can make businesses non-compliant to directives mandating the protection of customer data, thereby attracting hefty penalties. Scraping also endangers the digital identities of genuine users, who may never be able to reclaim their digital presence. Therefore, scraping not only causes losses worth millions of dollars to businesses but also increases the risk of exposure to genuine customers.
Protection is better than fretting over the losses later
While scraping may appear to be harmless, it holds immense potential to harm business interests. It is, therefore, in the interest of the businesses that they protect themselves and their customers from this menace. There are many tools and vendors that specialize in fighting automated scraping. It is worth investing in protection than fretting over losses and customer churn later.
The article has been written by Neetu Katyal, Content and Marketing Consultant
She can be reached on LinkedIn.