Another holiday shopping season is in the books, but that doesn’t mean Internet users should be any less vigilant with their data security practices. As consumers rush to return that unwanted gift online, it should come as no surprise that cybercriminals are still doing all they can to nab a new victim before the shopping season is over.
“When shopping online you always expose yourself to a certain risk when disclosing your personal and/or credit card information. Your credentials could be intercepted by fraudsters who will misuse the information for their personal gain,” Jan Valcke, president and chief operating officer of the Switzerland-based VASCO, said.
That’s why it’s important for users to be aware of their online surroundings when engaging in ecommerce activity and remain up-to-date on all the latest threats.
Such advice is especially useful this year, as market research has demonstrated a marked spike in online retail sales this past holiday season. Technology research comScore has been among those organizations closely monitoring holiday shopping, and it has revealed that 2011 has set numerous records in this area.
Since such figures were tracked, the nearly $32 billion that U.S. online consumers spent during the first 48 days of the shopping season – which comScore said began on November 1 – is higher than any other year.
What’s more, spending continues to rise the closer it gets to the holidays, reflecting the last-minute shopper mentality of many consumers. According to comScore, the week ending December 18 experienced four separate days with spending in excess of $1 billion, making for a grand total of $6.3 billion. That was 14 percent higher than the same time period in 2010.
As online shopping habits increase, VASCO’s report offered some tips that consumers can follow while doing their last-minute shopping.
An obvious one is to make purchases from a trusted website or online retailer. Well-respected companies are more likely to have the necessary data security protocols in place to protect customer and payment card information. By using a lesser-known site, a consumer could be opening his or herself up to fraud, according to VASCO.
Online consumers also must avoid clicking on suspicious emails, web links and advertisements from unfamiliar senders, VASCO warned. This time of year, many cybercriminals will attempt to mask their attacks in the form of messages from reputable companies. But web users must keep in mind that no such organization would ask its customers to send credit card or personal information, such as Social Security numbers, through email.
Just by simply taking such considerations into account, online consumers can ensure they find the deals they want while also keeping their confidential information protected.
“By raising security awareness and educating the consumer, we help them to mitigate risks, ensuring a secure and safe online Christmas shopping experience,” Valcke said.
Early last month, the United States Computer Readiness Team – also known as US-CERT – released its own warning and recommendations for safe online holiday shopping. Specifically, the organization said that email phishing scams and malware campaigns are especially common during the holiday season, and that consumers have to be on the lookout for suspicious activity.
Data Security News from SimplySecurity.com by Trend Micro