As we’ve now entered the busiest online shopping season of the year, it is also the ideal time and environment for cybercriminals to cash in on eager shoppers who accidentally let their guard down.
A recent holiday retail survey conducted by Deloitte found that 63% of shoppers prefer to shop online for holiday gifts and seasonal deals, providing cybercriminals with ample opportunities for stealing information, infecting computers and committing fraud.
Phishing attacks are the most common tactics used this time of year, primarily because cybercriminals take advantage of the fact that shoppers are rushing, stressed, and distracted. It’s important to note that phishing isn’t limited to email anymore. It also increasingly comes in the forms of text messages, social media posts, phone calls and even QR codes. If they’re unsolicited, be sure to ignore them.
We are all guilty of human error or negligence, which is why it’s important for shoppers to slow down, remain vigilant, and take the following precautions when shopping online this holiday season:
- Do not click on suspicious links from vendors
- Check URL’s and website addresses for accuracy
- Only use secured methods of payment
- Avoid clicking links from ads on social media sites
- Use complex passwords and two-factor authentication
- Keep software on your devices updated
- Use anti-virus software or a virtual private network (VPN)
- Monitor your credit and/or debit card accounts and balances
- Avoid storing credentials or credit/debit card information on your devices
- Pay close attention to who is sending you emails or text messages offering exclusive deals
- Be cautious of shipping notifications – these are often convincing and impersonate companies such as FedEx or UPS. Do not click on unsolicited links
- Do not be tempted to pay for online purchases using Cryptocurrency
Small businesses are also vulnerable to cybercrimes during the holiday season. An estimated 43% of all online attacks are aimed at small businesses, however only 14% are prepared to defend themselves. Ransomware, phishing, and the use of stolen credentials are the most common threats facing small businesses, therefore business owners need to:
- Keep e-commerce platforms, business software and devices updated
- Enable multi-factor authentication where available
- Invest in cybersecurity training for all employees
Speak to your broker to find out what cyber risks you or your small business might be facing this holiday season. Remember – not all insurance policies cover cybercrime. Contact your broker to find out if you’re covered.