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E-commerce firms seek insurance to avoid cyber attacks

29 December 2010 - 15:51 by Sarah Collinson

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The impact of the recent Wikileaks scandal has had serious ramifications in the world of retail, as many e-commerce sites are now seeking to protect themselves from the damaging potential of a distributed denial of service attack (DDoS) using insurance.

The UK's market for safe shopping online is worth nearly £60 billion annually and industry organisation IMRG will be offering protection in the form of insurance to the many companies who could potentially lose millions if they are targeted by a cyber attack that knocks out their ability to serve customers.

Many big name services were struck in retaliation for the perceived abandoning of whistleblowing site Wikileaks, with the likes of online payment service PayPal and payment card firm Visa being hit by DDoS attacks by the so-called Anonymous group of hacking activists.

Retail giant Amazon was also affected because it acted as a host for the Wikileaks site until it terminated its service following the publication of secret diplomatic cables.

The attacks came in the run up to the Christmas period, but most consumers would not have been affected by them since they were designed to be a form of protest more than a long-term disruptive strategy. The snow did more to compromise safe shopping online as the festive season wound up to a fever pitch.

Security expert Peter Wood, told the Telegraph, that retailers were concerned with the potential threat of cyber attacks which carry political motivations and, as such, many were going to insure themselves against the damage which could result from such attacks.

Cybercriminals have always posed a threat to firms like Amazon but with hacking carried out for a political cause the motivation is not financial but purely disruptive, resulting in consumer dissatisfaction and a loss of face for major international e-commerce operators.