Past experiences and reports depict an increasing volume of frauds and scams during the festive seasons, especially starting from Black Friday to New Years Eve. It’s the responsibility of everyone to stay safe and enjoy this Christmas and New Year.
Festive seasons are filled with lots of enthusiasm, enjoyment, traveling, discount offers and gifts, exchanges etc., also is an opportunity to cyber fraudsters and thieves, after all they too would be wanting to celebrate the seasons in their own ways, isn’t it? The only difference between you and them is that they would want to enjoy using your hard-earned money.
As a matter of fact festive seasons offer a great opportunity for people with unethical intentions. It usually starts with spreading malwares, spywares across the Internet. And you should know, it’s your responsibility to keep yourself safe and enjoy your holidays hassle free.
Day-by-day the volume of online shoppers are growing at a rapid pace. Today an online consumer is getting connected to the web via. various means and technologies, mobile/handheld devices, laptops, desktops to name a few. The technological advancements have in a way eased our online experience in a way, but it has also opened newer opportunities for the fraudsters and scammers with ways to spoiling it. Some may intend to steal your confidential information while some might do it merely for having fun with no real intention of causing a permanent damage. But whichever ways it is us who get to spoil the moods, properties and confidentiality. But do you know why and how such cyber-criminals get to be successful, to some extent it is us who should be held responsible in the first place. We as users might at-times take things for granted and let the devices stay unprotected. If this loop hole is bridged, the volume of scams and frauds would reduce to a large degree.
After-all, all we want is that our users and readers are safe and have a risk free experience over the web always. With that intention here we’ve listed a few common types of scams carried out by fraudsters during the past years and precautions you can take to avoid them. This should help you stay alert and avoid any pit-falls if any.
1) Scams and Frauds carried out via. Social media— Social media has been abloom with each changing year. Most users can be found active at least at one of the social media platforms today, and why not when it’s one of the simplest ways to connect to friends, families and others during our busy schedules. Fraudsters know this well hence try to exploit it to the best degree possible.
So how do they make use of social media to take advantage?
- Well, we all know that Facebook and Twitter are two most preferred social networks in the UK and world-wide. Based on past experiences, fraudsters have happened to hack into Facebook accounts of people in your network list, send false alerts, fake ads and deals or even scammed applications that are developed to fetch your personal credentials once having clicked on it. Such applications would usually get installed on your computing machines without you actually realizing it. So, make sure that you don’t click on something that you aren’t 100% sure about.
- Not to mention, Twitter is another medium which is used extensively for short texting, posting updates and connecting with different people. But, there’s also major drawback that comes with the social networking platform, you don’t always get to see the link that is hidden behind the shortened url., hence making the users more vulnerable to landing at a fraud page. It’s observed that fraudulent activities are carried out under this camouflage where malicious scripts are embedded under a web-url which when clicked infects the device. “Success doesn’t come easily” this is something that the scammers too have realized it seems, this probably why they spend time and money on building replicates of authentic websites which can easily fool users that aren’t attentive to detail. As any authentic site would do, the dummy sites would follow the same order procedure i.e. they’d ask you to enter all sorts of information like your address, contact credentials, credit card details etc. to confirm the order and accept the payment.
2) Malicious Mobile Applications — People have become smarter with the evolution of smartphones, and smartphones without applications of your own choice is as good as having a normal stone-age cellphone device. The Apple store reported a list of nearly 700,000 applications until Sept `12 with more than 25 Billion downloads, whereas Google Store for Android lists nearly 600,000 apps with more than 22 Billion downloads. More-or-less similar are the stats for BlackBerry App World too. This gives us a clear idea about the popularity of smartphones and the apps for respective technologies. Do you think that fraudsters wouldn’t be aware of these facts? Wouldn’t they try playing around on this new playground of smartphone applications? Of course they know it, according to Wikipedia “Smartphone malware is more easily distributed through application stores that have minimal or no security mechanisms, such as app kill switch (aka remote app removal), review process for their content, etc. The malware is often hidden in pirated versions of legitimate apps.” Moreover, BBC News UK had even warned users about the malware apps & smartphone scams last year.
This must be shocking right? I’m sure it is. So what do you do to stay away from becoming a victim? Just ensure that you download apps from the official stores. Following is a list of official apps stores for your reference:
Also, before downloading an app. it’s good to go through the permission and access levels necessary. Moreover, you can have a trusted Mobile security app such as avast! Mobile Security for Android , McAfee Antivirus & Security, Mobile Security & Antivirus, Lookout for iPhone/Pads/Pod, McAfee WaveSecure iOS Edition, etc.
3) Travel Bookings & Tourism Sites — Festive season is also a holiday season. And when it’s holidays most of us cannot resist the temptation to travel. Some might travel to visit their loved ones while some may travel to different parts of the world. But before the day of departure what do we do ? Yes Google it and search of the best competitive travel deals and packages online.
But beware, fraudsters are pre-equipped with plunging onto you the moment you fall prey to their camouflage. There have been reported cases in the past where users have landed onto a near identical website alike some of the most popular travel management sites and regretted.
BizCommunity.com a site offering daily industry news reported a warning on the 3rd December this year, asking people to be more vigilant during the season.
The city of London Police has published an article warning & educating citizens about the top 12 Frauds to be aware of during festive seasons.
Also, web users may report a scam or a fraud online at Police.co.uk
So, what do you actually need to do to have a safe season this year and years to come? It’s actually very simple. All you’ve got to do is follow these simple advices :
- Stay Alert
- Ensure that your PCs, Laptop, Smartphones are free from Malwares, Spywares and Viruses
- Make sure that you shop at trusted online destinations only. See that the sites have an encrypted/secure order processes.
- Ensure that your passwords are enough strong
- Avoid clicking on any unknown & untrustworthy ads., pop-up windows, websites and webpages
I’d recommend you to visit a reference from Cisco where John N. Stewart, Senior Vice President, Chief Security Officer Global Government and Corporate Security speaks about Online Shopping: What you Need to Know to Stay Safe this Holiday Season
Here are few more references:
TrendMicro : Holiday-Themed Multi-component Online Threats – http://about-threats.trendmicro.com/RelatedThreats.aspx?language=tw&name=Beware+of+Holiday-themed+Multi-component+Online+Threats
We honestly wish that you have a safe, secure, risk-free and enjoyable Festive season this year and years to come! Merry Christmas!