If a deal seems too good to be true, it usually is. Yet many people seem to put this wisdom to the side when they enter the holiday shopping season. The Columbus Dispatch said holiday scams are now starting to adapt to some of the newer technology that is out there, with one security expert saying that the majority are the same old scams "with a new spin." People and companies alike need to be sure to have data security front of mind and their wits about them, as many of these scams can be sidestepped with simple logic.
“[It] is going after you based on your vanity, your ego,” one security expert told the news source. “You get an (instant message) with a link in it that says, ‘There’s a funny picture of you at this link.’ If you hit the link, the next thing you know, you have downloaded a virus that locks down your device and encrypts or removes certain files. Then you get a message that says, unless you pay a certain fee, you’ll never see these files again.”
With the Dispatch suggesting 70 percent of Americans are planning on shopping online this year, it could be a productive few weeks for savvy cybercriminals. Internet safety expert C. Matthew Curtin, founder of Interhack Corp, told the news source that even as people are starting to get "hip to scams," the bad guys are developing more enticing traps by being especially relevant or topical.
“There are common sense defenses,” said Joan Coughlin, vice president of the Better Business Bureau serving central Ohio. “But people get busy over the holidays and don’t think about those common sense things … Mobile devices are a treasure trove of information for fraudsters, the ‘always-on’ functionality provides fraudsters with new avenues for getting information.”
A sampling of scams
The Federal Bureau of Investigation thought enough of holiday scams this year to issue a direct warning to consumers. The FBI said some common things to look out for include new products or gift cards being sold on auction websites, or classified advertisements with significantly lower prices, "one day only" websites that feature items highly in demand and gift cards from social media websites claiming to be from major retailers. The FBI also said phishing and scam emails, text messages and more that may seem like they're coming from a familiar sources are on the rise this year and may be gunning for a consumer's credit card information.
Andy Dalrymple, managing consultant information risk management at Global Secure Systems, wrote on BCS.org that there are some simple steps to keeping data security up when shopping online, including:
- Never go online shopping unless a personal firewall is turned on and updated
- Make sure credit cards are registered with the provider's online security services
- Keep antivirus and operating systems up to date so that necessary patches will be there if a user does experience an attack
- Check bank and credit card statements on a regular basis
- Always make sure the website that is being used for a purchase has a URL beginning with HTTPS
- Review the authenticity of customer testimonials, as these could be made up by the company to increase sales
While data security will always be a work in progress, people can follow these rules and keep aware when browsing the Internet and be safer than most others while shopping for the holidays online.
Consumerization News from SimplySecurity.com by Trend Micro.