Cyber Monday is here and is heralding the busiest time of the year for retailers and consumers alike. Experts are predicting 2016 will be the biggest yet, with sales on Monday expected to exceed $3 billion – that’s up nearly 10% on last year. But while all our eyes will be keenly focused on spotting the best bargains, let’s not forget this time of year is also a boon for the cybercriminals. They’re also focused – on parting you from your hard-earned cash and stealing your identity. Many will be using the shopping rush as the perfect smokescreen to launch attacks.
With that in mind, Trend Micro has put together a quick primer designed to show you where the main threats are and what you can do to stay safe.
Hiding in plain sight
When it comes to cybercrime the bad guys always go where there are most users and money. And this time of year, that means Cyber Monday. There are various tactics they’ll be using to steal your personal and financial details. One of the most common is the classic phishing attack. By hiding in plain sight, they can send out legitimate looking promotional emails offering Cyber Monday sales bargains. Some might even be spoofed to appear as if they come from your favorite stores.
But in reality, clicking on the links in those emails will either secretly download some malware designed to steal your personal and financial data, or else take you to bogus sites set up with the same end goal – harvesting your information so they can commit identity fraud.
The bad guys also hide malware inside legitimate looking mobile apps. And not all of it is designed to steal your information. Cybercriminals could also be looking to remotely take control of your PC or smartphone, or else infect it with ransomware – rendering it completely useless until you pay a fee to have it unlocked.
Other dangers this shopping seasons include Wi-Fi hotspots – this is a great way for the bad guys to eavesdrop on your shopping and note down your card details as you type them in. And remember, even if you shop on legitimate sites, there’s always a chance some criminal gang might hack that company and steal your log-ins. That’s why it’s important not to reuse them across multiple sites.
Some top tips
Follow the below, and you’ll be on your way to staying safe this Cyber Monday:
- If a deal is too good to be true, it usually is. Treat unsolicited emails with caution and don’t click on any links. If you want to visit that store, type the URL into your browser
- Only shop on sites which start with “HTTPS” in the address bar – this means they’re secure
- Buy apps only from legitimate stores like Apple Store and Google Play
- Use strong passwords on sites and a different password on each site. Or just checkout as a guest if possible
- Don’t use free public Wi-Fi to do your shopping
- Keep your OS and computer software up-to-date
- Make sure your PC and smartphone have anti-malware installed from a reputable firm
- Pay by credit card – you’ll have less liability in the event something goes wrong than with debit
- Keep an eye on your bank account to spot unusual transactions early on