We hate to sound gloomy before the holidays, but Christmas not only brings joy and presents. It comes with increasing cyber-crime activity as well, as Hacker Grinch prepares new scams and online attacks.
Identity fraudsters claimed a new victim every two seconds in 2013, and the number of identity fraud victims rose to 13.1 million, according to Javelin Strategy & Research. These figures only express fraud losses, but Christmas brings even more e-threats onto the scene. Here are five security scenarios that should make both businesses and users ramp up their security right now.
- You lose money after making payments on a fraudulent website
Online fraud losses are increasing by about 30 per a year, regardless of the legions of companies and security experts mitigating risks. While trying to find the perfect gift for your loved ones, you may bump into one of the numerous fraudulent websites flooding the Internet before Christmas: fake online shops, fake banks and even fake hotels.
- You get swindled by Christmas spam
Christmas spam made its entrÃ©e at the beginning of November, with gift offers ranging from watches to candy, toys and exclusive holiday offers. Anything could happen after you click on an unsolicited message. The most common scenarios involve money and data losses that can range from a $100 to a couple of thousand dollars.
- You give out your credit card data on dubious websites
Another scenario that could ruin your holidays doesnâ€™t necessarily involve a fake web site, but one that lacks proper security measures or works with dubious payment gateways. In this case, cyber-criminals can easily intercept communications and use your credit card data for identity theft and fraud. In account takeover fraud, they may change your contact information and hijack your bank and online shop accounts. In new account fraud, they may use your identity to open accounts in your name.
- You fall for a targeted Christmas malware campaign
Malware campaigns multiply before and during Christmas, as users spend even more time shopping on the Internet. They represent a tempting target for malware writers, who are constantly crafting new methods to bypass email-integrated antispam filters and even antivirus solutions taken by surprise.
- You lose money and data after shopping through unsecured Hotspots
And hereâ€™s a scenario that could transform the perfect Christmas into the perfect heist: you find the most incredible gift offer online, but you are connected to the Internet through a public hotspot. Without a second thought, you make the payment and unwillingly give your credit card details to cyber-criminals, who intercept and store them on their own servers. Expect a big surprise when trying to redraw money any time soon.
The word â€˜scenarioâ€™ may tempt you to believe itâ€™s just a movie plot and it could never happen to you, but keep in mind these are real user experiences. To help you spend a safe Christmas online, here are some security tips:
- Never consider yourself immune to hacking and remember that data breaches are the greatest risk factor for identity fraud.
- Keep your antivirus solution updated on both your mobile and desktop devices. Install a tool to safeguard all your online activities before and during the holidays. To help you beef up your security, Bitdefender offers Safepayâ„¢, a free desktop app that works with the antivirus solution as an extra-security layer. The tool features a hacker-proof browser that keeps all your online banking and e-shopping transactions secure. When you type sensitive information such as usernames and passwords, you can use the Virtual Keyboard to make sure no hacker drops by.Â
- Say â€˜yes, yesâ€™ to two-factor authentication whenever possible. This additional layer of security helps you to keep your accounts safe from hacker interceptions as it blocks hackers and delivers real-time reports on security incidents. You will also be notified if someone tries to access your accounts.Â
- Use a trusted and secure Internet connection. Avoid public Wi-Fi hotspots when sending personal or financial information. Change your passwords on a regular basis, especially before holidays. Bitdefender Safepayâ„¢ also shields your network from unauthorized access and ensures your data safely reaches its intended destination.
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