With about a week and a half to go before the holidays, both mobile and online shopping sales records continue to topple as customers are turning to the web and connected devices to purchase gifts like never before.
Whether it has been a web browser, smartphone or tablet, it's become obvious that the internet is quickly becoming the shopping medium of choice for many holiday season consumers. However, it remains important for web users to remain vigilant and on the lookout for cyber threats, as cybercriminals have also taken note of the increased popularity of mobile and ecommerce activity.
"Cyber-criminals are actively trying to leverage mobile devices as part of their attacks," John Pironti of the industry association ISACA told Forbes.
The news provider said now "'tis the season for malware [and] viruses," and Pironti agreed.
“The holiday season provides them a perfect time to test out new attacks," he continued, according to Forbes.
Technology research firm comScore has kept a close eye on online shopping habits this year and has broken down the season into specific periods of time. All have experienced unprecedented sales figures.
According to comScore's latest report, a total of $1.1 billion was spent on the fourth shopping holiday of the season, Green Monday – the others being Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. Very similar to Cyber Monday, online shopping is encouraged for Green Monday.
And this year's sales for the day increased 19 percent compared to the $954 million that was spent on the 2010 edition of Green Monday.
Overall, consumers have combined to spend $26.8 billion online during the 2011 holiday shopping season, which comScore defined as having started on November 1. That figure is 15 percent higher than the $23.3 billion that was spent from November 1 through December 12 last year.
Not surprisingly, Cyber Monday was the biggest day for online shopping, with $1.3 billion in sales. The entire Thanksgiving weekend witnessed slightly more than $1 billion in online sales.
Judging by these figures, it's obvious that shoppers are now more comfortable than even in making a purchase through a retailer's website or mobile application. Still, they can't be blinded by seemingly good deals and forget all best practices for Internet security.
Pironti told Forbes that this time of year is when cybercriminals try to take advantage of shoppers' thriftiness.
“[They] know users will actively be shopping and looking for deals in places they normally may not access," he told the news provider.
With that information in hand, cybercriminals tailor their attacks to appear as sales and promotions from popular retailers. However, an unsuspecting deal hunter will be infected with a virus or malware once he or she clicks on a malicious link contained in an email, a bogus web advertisement or pop-up window.
"Shoppers hoping to use their mobile devices this busy shopping season may want to check their lists twice, or hackers look to take advantage of the holiday season to plot and plant their exploits," the Forbes report said.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Computer Readiness Team – an arm of the National Cyber Security Division and better known as US-CERT – released a bulletin warning shoppers to be on the lookout for holiday-themed scams.Web users should be on the lookout for malicious electronic greeting cards, requests for charitable donations, offers for holiday screen savers, credit card applications and online shopping advertisements.
Data Security News from SimplySecurity.com by Trend Micro