By Daniel Hunter
Cyber Monday is once again upon us, with people across the world looking to buy gifts for their loved ones in time for the holidays, while also trying to find the best deal.
Keiron Dalton, a mobile security expert at Aspect Software, has warned shoppers to keep safe when shopping online, saying that the increase in online activity will mean a higher threat from fraudsters.
Research from the government's Cyber Streetwise campaign also warned that smaller retailers could lose out on business as a result of ignoring cyber security.
What was initially a U.S. ecommerce trend, Cyber Monday — so-called because it is the biggest day of the year for online retailing — has started making an impact here in the UK, with spending this year expected to hit £650m. However, this increase in online sales does mean a heightened threat in online security.
Dalton, who is Director of Cloud Solutions EA at Aspect, said: “Every year, Cyber Monday sends shoppers in the millions to their computers, and increasingly so, mobiles and tablets. Shoppers want to find the best deals on gifts for Christmas, while businesses want to take advantage of the increase in online shopping, so it seems like an ideal scenario. But fraudsters are aware of this and will try to exploit the day to get hold of as much money as possible.
“What Cyber Monday provides fraudsters with is a platform to attempt to access the largest amount of peoples' details they can all year, and they will ramp up their efforts in order to achieve this. Customers now have even more channels to shop through online such as mobile, tablets and social media, which gives fraudsters even more ways to try and access shoppers details, so customer safety is truly under threat.
“As technology continues to progress and develop, more and more channels are opening up for customers to make purchases. People now have the capabilities to buy goods wherever they are and whenever they see fit, and retailers are increasingly helping ease customer effort in order to attract people to shop with them. Fraudsters are realising this and coming up with new ways to gain customers details through these channels through techniques such as SIM Swap, which occurs when someone unlawfully obtains a duplicate SIM card for a mobile number, fundamentally re-directing communications back to the fraudster."
He added: “Although shopping online proves to be quick and simple for customers, it also leaves them vulnerable, as no further proof is required in order to prove the card or phone holder made the purchase. It is important to remember that fraud follows the channel of adoption, and fraudsters will be working hard to access your details in whatever form and will show no sympathy if they get hold of them.
“All the usual advice to consumers is as relevant as ever, but ensure extra vigilance: don’t click on any suspicious-sounding emails (even if it looks seasonal — the holiday season is a popular period for phishing), don’t log onto any free Wi-Fi hotspots while out shopping unless you’re 100% sure it is legitimate, and always check the retailer’s web link says what it should say before making a purchase.
“The real onus here is on the retailers — and the banks — to ensure the right amount of security to protect customer data, while making bargain hunting as fun and straightforward a process as ever. In this way, shoppers can get all they need for the holiday period while making sure their details are safe and secure.”
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