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Festive Season Brings Online Fraudsters Out in Droves

14 December 2018 - 20:51 by Simon Crisp

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Consumers hoping to buy Christmas presents via safe shopping online this year will need to face up to the growing likelihood that they will encounter a range of scams as they search for a bargain.

This is based on research from F-Secure which shows that spam email messages are the most prevalent way for cybercriminals to try and dupe innocent shoppers, with many gangs creating campaigns specifically to target gift buyers.

Analysts have also found that the effectiveness of fraudulent emails increases during peak periods of retail activity, simply because consumers are more likely to overlook offers that might seem a little suspect because they are desperate to get hold of the most popular items in time for the holidays.

Report spokesperson Adam Sheehan said that the sheer volume of promotional emails from legitimate retailers that are issued in the run-up to Christmas can also help to hide spam messages which might be more conspicuous and easy to spot during quieter periods of the year.

He explained that during tests run by his firm, it was found that the likelihood of a spam recipient opening and clicking on potentially dangerous links within emails was 39 per cent higher during the festive shopping season than in other months of the year.

Clicking on infected links can have dangerous ramifications, allowing malicious software to make its way on to the devices of consumers and cause all sorts of problems. Data theft is the most common complication associated with an infection, although ransomware can also be a catastrophic effect of falling victim of spam.

Being extra vigilant during the weeks leading up to Christmas when shopping online and opening emails is the best way for Brits to avoid becoming a true target for the cybercriminals of the world.