The return of Cyber Monday brings great deals for consumers, but also serves as a reminder of the need for shoppers to be vigilant and for cybersecurity legislation to protect Americans from e-predators.
In 2005, the online retail industry declared the Monday after Thanksgiving to be Cyber Monday, a day that holiday shoppers could find bargains online akin to the promotions made available by walk-up stores on Black Friday. Consumers responded enthusiastically with almost half a billion dollars in purchases that year, a figure that jumped to over one billion dollars on Cyber Monday 2010—the first time ever that online spending in a single day exceeded the billion dollar figure, according to comScore. In an interesting twist, online retailers upped the ante this year by offering some holiday bargains on Black Friday exclusively via mobile devices, tempting shoppers with online bargains at the very moment they were navigating through the hordes of fellow shoppers last Friday.
The ever-increasing popularity of Cyber Monday mirrors the astonishing growth of online shopping year round. ComScore estimates that online retail shopping in the third quarter of 2011 amounted to over $36 billion in sales, a 13 percent increase from the previous year and the fourth consecutive quarter of double-digit growth rates. At this pace, retail e-commerce sales will exceed $160 billion for the year.
Yet the risk of cybercrime is real, including online identity theft that affects millions of Americans each year and causes billions of dollars of harm to the U.S. economy. In May the Administration proposed a legislative package that reflects the ideas of congressional leaders and that would enhance security for online shoppers as well as bolster the integrity of government networks and other critical infrastructure. It’s time to enact this legislative proposal and bolster cybersecurity and trust in the Internet, so that it remains an engine of innovation and economic growth.
Tom Power is Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Telecommunications