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Stay Safe While Shopping Online This Holiday Season

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Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

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DETROIT (WWJ) – Shoppers will spend an estimated $2 billion in online sales during Cyber Monday this year. With that increase in spending comes an increase in potential attacks and exploitations as shoppers flock to the latest deals and trends.

Five of the most common threats that online shoppers face have been identified by WatchGuard Technologies, which provides integrated and multi-function business security solutions.

Seasonal email phishing scams –This is a great time for cyber criminals to leverage seasonal phishing scams to lure victims to malicious sites or malware. Some of the most common malicious emails during the holidays are fake UPS, FedEx, or DHL messages claiming a delivery failed, bogus flight notices, and even phony secret Santa messages. Avoid clicking links and attachments in unsolicited emails.

Fake product giveaways – Every year the holiday shopping bonanza brings us at least one or two “must-have” items for the holiday season and cyber criminals always seem to recognize these popular consumer items early. We’ve already seen phishers trying to steal personal information from victims by tricking them into filling out details to win one of the new next-generation gaming consoles. While some of these giveaways might be legit, be careful where you share information.

Dastardly digital downloads – Attackers can easily theme free download offers from whatever holiday or pop culture event they want, be it Thanksgiving, Christmas and so on. If it sounds too good to be free, it probably is. As always, be careful what you download.

Fraudulent e-commerce sites – The bad guys are great at faking websites. They can fake banking sites, social networks and even online shopping sites that have suspiciously good deals for that one hot ticket item. Of course, if they can lure victims to their replica sites, they can leverage that trust to steal information. Pay close attention to the domain names and vet online retailers before ordering.

Booby-trapped Ads and Blackhat SEO – Two popular new techniques are malicious online advertisements and evil search engine optimization (SEO) tricks. By either buying online ad space, or hacking online ad systems, hackers can inject fake advertisements into legitimate web sites, which redirect back to malicious sites. They can also leverage various SEO tricks to get their websites to show up in the top results for popular searches. As you consider clicking ad links or following search results, be aware of the domains and URLs you click on.

Falling victim to an attack is easy. Some simple tips to follow while shopping online include:

  • Updating your computer software
  • Do not click on unsolicited links or attachments
  • Look for the padlock while shopping online
  • Use password best practices on shopping sites
  • Vet online merchants before clicking buy
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