SHOPPERS hoping to cash in on bargains during online Black Friday sales are being warned to remain vigilant of scams and ransomware attacks that could extort them out of thousands.
With Black Friday sales already underway and Cyber Monday fast approaching, experts say the fanfare surrounding cut-price holiday deals online leaves shoppers and retailers more vulnerable to cybercrime than any other time of year.
Ransomware attacks occur globally once every 11 seconds[/caption]
Black Friday sales were expected to see an increase this year as the pandemic slows[/caption]
Tom Callahan, the director of operations at PDI Software, told the Digital Journal the most serious threat comes in the form of ransomware and its variations.
Callahan noted that Ransomware, which is the fast-growing kind of cybercrime, occurs online around once every 11 seconds across the world.
“Leading up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, consumers have been hearing about potential issues with retail and delivery supply chains,” he said.
“Although there are a lot of reasons why certain products might not be on store shelves or deliveries might be delayed, one reason we can’t overlook is cybersecurity.”
Because the retail supply chain is becoming more digital and interconnected, a single cyberattack on one firm may swiftly affect the whole chain, he explained.
Callahan pointed to Extortionware as an example, which is considered the most advanced kind of ransomware and is where a hacker threatens to harm the victim if their ransom is not met.
Such attacks are typically tailored towards companies that deal with sensitive data, such as those in the financial, medical, or educational sectors.
“If a business gets breached and decides not to pay the ransom to get their data back, cybercriminals are now using that data to extort not only the business but the customers and partners of that business as well,” Callahan said.
“As a result, the blast radius of a cyberattack can escalate very quickly across a wide footprint. That has the potential to completely disrupt the retail supply chain.”
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To counteract the issue, Callahan urged retailers to follow established security best practices and maintain vigilance.
However, he added, businesses must also be “wary of how interwoven their supply chains are. They must be able to protect sensitive data and maintain secure access points as they interact with other businesses through the cloud.”
Similarly, for prospective customers, the FBI has warned that with online shopping scams at an all-time high, vigilance is key to ensuring you remain protected.
Something to be extra wary off is clicking on links received from unknown senders, the Bureau says.
One of the most common scams is for hackers to send what looks like a marketing email from brands you know or may shop with.
Typically such scams involve promoting a sale for popular items, but after clicking the link, you’ll be redirected to the imposter’s website rather than the site you had been anticipating.
Additionally, shoppers should be aware of fake websites masquerading as legitimate retailers.
While they often closely resemble the site their impersonating, you can usually differentiate the fake site from the real thing when if you look closely.
The best way to do this is to look for the padlock symbol to the right of your search bar, which indicates you’re on a secure website, and check the URL matches.
Experts say that if a deal appears too good to be true and can’t be found anywhere else, then it is probably just that.
“As a rule, if a company you’ve never heard of is offering a deal you can’t find anywhere else, that should be a major red flag,” an Inc.com report reads.
“If the deal seems too good to be true, there’s a good chance it’s a scam, and you should just stay away.”
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