Barclays Bank has today revealed that purchase scams rose by 34% following Black Friday weekend last year, putting this year’s Christmas shoppers at huge risk.
It comes as almost nine in 10 Britons say they will rely on Black Friday to do some or all of their Christmas shopping this year.
With Black Friday fast approaching, increased purchases of smart devices – which many consumers believe could save them money for more flexible working amid the cost of living crisis – will also put British businesses at increased risk of a cyberattack.
In fact, 68% of UK home workers don’t prioritise security in the top three purchase factors for smart devices. Meanwhile, only 21% of UK home workers say their employer has established a cybersecurity policy for the use of smart devices for flexible working. As such, following this important retail sales period, there will likely be a huge opening for cybercriminals looking to target UK companies.
Although smart devices may seem innocent, bad actors can easily access home networks with connections to company devices – or company data on consumer devices – and steal intellectual property worth millions. Therefore, it is vital for companies to evaluate their cybersecurity defences now, while introducing mandatory cybersecurity requirements for hardware and software products like smart devices used for remote working. This will ensure both employees and organisations stay one step ahead of threat actors this winter.
We’re seeing a peak retail season like no other. This Black Friday, consumers are going to be savvier than ever to lock in the best deals. This new behaviour is on scammer’s radars, with criminals primed to take advantage. Scammers typically use doubt, uncertainty and disruption to their advantage, creating a sense of urgency in their targets. These scams lead us to fall victim more easily as we drop our guard and fall foul of them.
Always approach communications from brands with caution, and if something doesn’t feel right – trust your gut instinct. There are a few observations you can make to determine whether something is legitimate or fraudulent, including:
– Do you recognise the sender? Take a look at their email address – especially the domain. Ensure the domain is from a source you trust, and if it is, double-check that it’s spelt correctly.
– Consider how you’re addressed in the email. A trusted source will likely use technology that contains your contact information, so their email will address you by the name you gave them. Phishers, on the other hand, cluster a large number of email addresses into one outbound email in the hopes of just catching one user, so they typically choose a vague greeting such as “Dear Sir/Madam”.
– Evaluate the call to action. What is the sender asking you to do? Asking you to download a file or click on an unverified link, for example, is a prime opportunity for a hacker to install malware on your device. Remember: if you need to act ” “RIGHT NOW!” to win an offer, chances are it’s too good to be true.
Bottom line: Avoid clicking on or downloading anything that seems even remotely suspicious.
Hackers are known to turn up the heat with high attack volumes and high-pressure tactics at the most challenging of times. With cash conscious consumers’ attention firmly fixed on locking in festive bargains, cybercriminals will hope we’ve dropped our guard, giving them a prime opportunity to steal our personal and financial data.
It’s clear that cybercriminals are levelling up with attacks that are more prevalent, more sophisticated and harder to detect than ever before. That’s why vigilance is our most critical first line of defence. Opportunistic hackers will try to create a false sense of urgency so it’s important to exercise caution by staying scam-aware, trusting gut instinct and building security into all of our online behaviour.
The golden rule to remember is that prevention is always better than a cure. Don’t panic and make rushed decisions out of fear of missing out on a deal. Power to stay ahead of the hackers comes through learning how to protect ourselves online. It’s worth taking time with purchases and remembering that if something looks too good to be true, it often is. It’s time to turn the spotlight on simple yet effective approaches like better and more robust passwords, and a questioning scam aware approach, to ensure we can bargain hunt with full peace of mind.
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