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How to Stay Safe of Holiday Phishing Scams

November 27, 2014 | By Editor 

Summary

Its is that time of the year, Thanksgiving weekend and the beginning of a long holiday shopping season. But it is also the time of the year when cyber scams are in full swing. To be on the safer side, the government is warning consumers of cyber scams ahead of Christmas.

Holiday Phishing Scams

Shoppers Beware of Cyber Scams

  • The weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas represents the biggest days for hackers as 90 percent of annual online sales occur during this period. More shopping, more scams.
  • With cyber shopping on the rise, the potential threat of hackers ready to scam unsuspecting shoppers too rises. Be it Black Friday or Cyber Monday, cyber criminals come at us from all angles. We get bombarded with social media notifications, pop-ups, and mails telling us about the attractive deals we could get.
  • The National Retail Federation (NRF) expects about 140 million people to shop online or in purchases between November 28 (Black Friday), 2014 and November 30 (Sunday), 2014.
  • And on December 1 (Cyber Monday), 2014, a day of deep online discounts and deals, half the adults are expected to make purchases on the Internet.
  • Cyber Monday is another big opportunity for hackers and malware authors to take advantage of social media and popular interest to spread virus and cheat credulous shoppers.
  • On the whole, this year’s holiday shopping sales are expected to reach an estimated $617 billion.
  • E-commerce sales are also expected to rise between 8-12 percent in 2014 to more than $104 billion. Around 56 percent of mobile owners are planning to use their phones while shopping.

Stay Safe This Holiday Season

According to experts, the best gift you can present for yourself, your family, and friends is online security.

  • Do not buy over a public wireless networks, like the spots you find at cafes, hotels, and airports because your information can be easily intercepted by hackers.
  • When making a payment, look for the closed padlock. Sites that use HTTPS encryption will display a small image of a padlock to the left of their site address.
  • HTTPS uses open-source encryption in order to prevent third-party snooping and common hacks.
  • Leading Web-based firms such as Google, Microsoft, and Facebook have made HTTPS the default connection for their traffic.
  • However, most retailers, including top sites such as Macy’s and Amazon, do not secure their traffic with HTTPS. Instead, they encrypt the checkout pages when credit/debit card information is required.
  • URLs of retail websites can contain other signs of a pending scam. For instance, check out the end of the URL. A “.com” is common and normal for online sites.
  • But, many hackers trick consumers with fake sites registered with different tags (e.g., “.net”).

Conclusion

According to a security firm, this week has already started seeing an increasing in online scams ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. For example, take the bogus “Amazon Gift Card” Facebook page. It takes shoppers to a Web address where they are requested to download a file in order to redeem their so-called gift card. Instead, the system gets infected, compromising its data. Buying gits has never been so easy. We make use of our mobiles, tablets, and PCs to order items online, and delivered to our doorsteps in few days; not to mention free shipping.

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