Every year advancements in technology allow us to get more and do more than years prior. Everything is faster because people want and expect things faster. We’re accustomed to it now, and businesses know they must keep up with consumer demand to survive. I’m writing this one week before Thanksgiving and already, so many companies are flashing their Black Friday Deal signs with some having online sales all week long. We’re in an age where customers demand the speed and convenience of online shopping, and the recent pandemic has only accelerated the inevitable. However, that speed and convenience come at a price. Where more people are spending time online, especially with credit cards in hand, cybercriminals are sure to lurk. Shoppers and retailers must understand the risks of doing business in cyberspace and take measures to protect themselves.
Supply chain shortages, coronavirus fears, and concerns over shipping delays will continue to push holiday shopping toward e-commerce. Sure, many retailers still have in-store deals that leave people waiting outside the doors for hours, but online shopping has grown enormously over the last few years. A recent study by Adobe shows that US Holiday online shopping will see a 10% increase this year to $207 billion after reaching heights of 33% just last year. Unfortunately, cybercrime has grown too. On Monday, Arkose Labs, a fraud deterrence platform, released a report containing new data on the latest fraud trends and what threats we can expect during the holidays.
“As we approach 2022, the frequency and severity of fraud continues to threaten any organization doing business online,” said Arkose Labs CMO Vanita Pandey. “Based on intelligence garnered from the Arkose Labs Network, we predict a 60 percent increase in attacks for the upcoming 2021 holiday shopping season. No digital business is immune to this threat.”
The holiday season is meant to be a time of joy and giving, but it can quickly turn into a time of frustration and stress. Don’t let scammers and cybercriminals ruin the holidays for you. Protect yourself with these tips:
- Beware of Phishing Scams - Phishing is the most common attack vector for cybercriminals because it’s effective. Watch out for emails from unknown senders and never click on a link or attachment in an email unless you are certain the sender is legitimate. Some phishing campaigns are highly sophisticated, and it can take an observant eye to spot the signs. Some of these include:
- The email is sent from a public email domain (@google.com or @yahoo.com)
- The domain name is misspelled (Typosquatting ex. Yah00.com, gooogle.com, etc.)
- The email is poorly written with many grammatical errors, very generic, and potentially contains misinformation
- The email contains suspicious attachments or malicious links. Anything that has misspelled file names or suspicious links, do NOT click
- The email attempts to create a sense of urgency or panic. Hackers will try to get you to do something as soon as possible so you don't realize it's a scam
- The email often appears to come from a legitimate source but is really just an impersonator. This could be a boss, employee, family, friend or even a brand
- The email is requesting personal or confidential information. Most companies will NEVER ask for credentials via email
- Use a strong, unique password for every account and use multi-factor authentication whenever possible – If you use the same credentials for your Amazon account as you do your Walmart, Target, or whatever other accounts you have and a cybercriminal gains access to just one of those accounts? You can consider them all compromised. This is one of the most common password bad habits out there. Using different passwords and then using multi-factor authentication on top of that, whether it be through text message or biometrics, will make your account significantly more secure.
- Keep an eye on your bank accounts – In the event that someone DOES make a fraudulent purchase on one of your accounts, you can be on top of it. If you’re shopping a lot during this time, even checking your accounts once a day could save you a headache in the future. Also, it’s best to use a credit card for online purchases so it’s easier to dispute any fraudulent charges. And if a criminal gets your debit card information, they could drain your bank account before you can say Happy Holidays.
- Don’t fall for social media scams – Too many people have fallen victim to scammers on social media. Criminals use these platforms to take advantage of people’s trusting nature and scams are rife during the holiday shopping season.
- Avoid fake websites – Did you know hackers can put up entirely fake websites that look like the real thing? It’s discouraging, I know, but remember if something feels off about a website, trust your gut, it probably is. Double-check the web address before putting in any payment information and consider implementing Google Safe Browsing as an added security measure.
- Finally, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is – Hackers will use all sorts of methods to get you handing over your money and they’re not above manipulating you to do so.
If you follow at least some of these tips, you’ll be better for it. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the biggest times for holiday shopping, which means they’re also huge for cybercrime. If more people are aware of the risk cybercriminals pose around this season, maybe we can fight back. I hope you enjoy the upcoming holidays and have a safe shopping experience.
Written by Elizabeth Dasenbrock
Elizabeth Dasenbrock is a marketer/graphic designer whose mission has always been to creatively express stories and ideas. Her skill set allows her to convey concepts to particular audiences in a visually appealing way. At TechGuard, she works on the marketing team with a focus on graphic design. In her free time, she can usually be found working on personal creative projects, tending to her houseplants, or spending time with friends and family.