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4 Disturbing Ways Hackers Are Taking Advantage Of Your Cyber Monday Shopping Spree

By: Brian Wortman on November 20, 2018

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4 Disturbing Ways Hackers Are Taking Advantage Of Your Cyber Monday Shopping Spree

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We know when Cyber Monday hits, you’ll be hunting for the best deal. What you may not know is that hackers are also looking for the best deal, and it’s coming from your wallet.

It is no secret that Cyber Monday has gotten increasingly popular in recent years, but it might be surprising to know where it all started. In 2005, the National Retail Federation's website, www.shop.org, coined the name “Cyber Monday” after retailers noticed an annual spike in online sales the Monday after Thanksgiving (USA Today). Retailers at this time were taking advantage of new e-commerce systems and opening online stores. With the availability of online products, and the fear of Black Friday crowds and chaos, shopping on Cyber Monday became a more attractive option to many consumers.

Cyber Monday continues to be a major success, and now eclipses the hype for Black Friday. In 2017, there were $2 billion in online sales on Cyber Monday, and this year sales are expected to increase by 18 – 20%. On the other hand, Black Friday sales declined 4% that same year. The increasing amount of credit card information flying through the airways, along with shoppers’ lack of awareness of a cyber security threat, has created a major opportunity for hackers to take advantage – and they certainly cash in on it!

Businesses need to be wary of Cyber Monday hacking schemes. If you or your staff get tempted to shop from a work-issued device, it’s critical that you take precautionary steps to avoid a hack. Here are four ways hackers intend to have their own Cyber Monday shopping spree courtesy of your wallet:

1. Untrustworthy Sites Lead To Unstable Credit Card Security

Consumers can be cavalier about entering credit card information for an online sale, and hackers know that. Even though we enter our payment information online so frequently, it’s critical to keep your guard up.

Be wary of visiting or entering payment to unfamiliar sites, especially pop-up sites that boast steep discounts and free shipping. Before you make a purchase from an unfamiliar site, do your research. Googling the company and checking the reviews are a great start. Hint: a site is easily identifiable as trustworthy when the URL contains https rather than simply http.

Remember: even large retailers can get hacked (we’re looking at you, Target!). So when a reliable processor is an option in the checkout, like PayPal, use that to protect your information even further. If you’re asked to pay in bitcoin, you’ll hopefully get that savvy online shopper Spidey-sense to avoid.

2. Hackers Are Lurking In Your Cyber Monday Promotional Emails

Lured in by “deals of the year” promoted for Cyber Monday, many consumers don’t think twice when they see a sale that looks too good to be true.

Hackers use phishing and spear-phishing (what does this mean?) to send emails that contain links to gain access to your system. They can imitate someone you know, or a company you would generally trust. Once you click on the link that says “see the deal here,” you’re immediately infected, or you’re asked to give over your personal information…to your detriment.

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With the blanket of hot deals hitting our inbox, it gives a hacker a great opportunity to try out phishing attempts. Consumers need to be wary of possible phishing threats by educating themselves on what a phishing threat is first. Check out this guide to get a five-minute lesson on how to identify a hacker.

3. Outdated Software Is An Unlocked Point of Entry for Hackers

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but 95% of employed consumers plan to do online shopping at work.

With the number of unsecure sites and phishing threats that spike this time of year, staff will give hackers plenty of chances to breach your organization’s network. If you do get breached, a secure backup can save you time and money when facing a ransomware attack or cyber disaster.

If you haven’t checked your backups in a while, have your IT provider update them. They can also help you update operating systems, software and antivirus. You can also request that staff update passwords if it has been a while since they’ve been reset.

4. A Hacker’s Greatest Gift Is An Untrained Employee

We know you love your coworkers and staff, but the #1 threat to an organization’s cyber security is its employees.

Hacking attempts are only going to increase until the end of the year. Now is the perfect time to teach your staff about cyber security best practices. Not convinced it’s necessary? Ask yourself if you and your coworkers know…

  • How to spot a phishing or spear-phishing email
  • How to tell if a website is unsecure
  • What to do in case of a cyber security breach

If you answered, “I’m not sure” or “maybe” to any of these, you should do a quick cyber security training to get your staff up to snuff.

Our IT experts use KnowBe4 testing for our clients, and our staff, to ensure cyber security best practices are being followed. We’ll do this by sending phony phishing emails that bait users to open links and attachments. Those who do are flagged and undergo additional training.

At the minimum, remind your staff to think before clicking on the so-called best online deal of the year.

We Know Where A Hacker Will Enter Your Network. Do You?

Having your technology provider run a network scan is an easy way to identify vulnerabilities in your network. Schedule a quick scan with our network detective to figure out how you can improve your cyber security, or contact us here for questions.

get free cyber security awareness training for you and your team here

About Brian Wortman

Though Brian Wortman spends his time crafting furniture in his woodworking shop, he’s no slouch when it comes to keeping up with the latest hi-tech solutions. Brian’s expertise is listening to our client’s needs to match them with the right solution to boost their office productivity or create a secure workspace.