'Tis the season for cybercrime...

Johannesburg - Consumers planning on purchasing their Christmas gifts online could be at risk of losing up to  R70 000 per incident to cybercrime, according to global IT group Dimension Data.

The company said by turning to multiple devices - mobile phones, tablets, laptops, and PCs – online shopping has become more accessible and convenient, but leaves the buyers vulnerable to online attacks.

Coupled with the fact that more countries have greater bandwidth available to them now than they did in the past, Dimension Data predicts that 2017 is expected to be the worst year to date when it comes to cybercrime incidents during the festive season.

According to research by Barclays, more than a quarter of all online scams in the UK occur over the Christmas period, while Threat Metrix predicts there’ll be 50 million global cyberattacks over the 2017 holiday season.

Specifically, countries with strong fiscal outlooks and high levels of mobile adoption are among those most likely to be targeted.

Meanwhile, a quarterly Threat Intelligence Report released last week by NTT Security, reveals that global phishing attacks were up by an alarming 74% in the third quarter of 2017.

Mark Thomas, Security Strategist for Dimension Data says: “Over the next weeks, we’ll see an increase in email phishing campaigns, ransomware attacks, banking trojans, as well as the emergence of fraudulent websites that promote special deals such as discounted holiday packages.

Fraudulent gift cards, which may take you to an untrusted site or allow the download of a file to your computer that could compromise your device, will also become more prevalent.”

Also on cybercriminals’ shopping list are bogus shipping delivery status notifications designed to entice you to click on malicious links, unsolicited emails offerings special deals, and fake receipts for online purchases which prompt you to open attachments containing ransomware. 

What cybercriminals want

Thomas says cybercriminals are after two things: an individual’s creditcard details which once accessed, they’ll start using to spend your hard-earned cash, which could include your annual bonus. In addition, they target your personal identity information such as user names, passwords, and details on which sites you regularly access.

“If a cybercriminal is able to access your credentials, they can use them to impersonate you on multiple sites and online platforms.”

The role of business, retailers, and parents

Businesses need to educate their employees who are connecting to their corporate networks to remain vigilant this festive season.

“Providing multi-factor authentication to access corporate systems is another step in the fight against cybercriminals.

"This makes it more difficult for attackers to compromise your credentials,” he explains and points out that retailers, in particular, should be on high alert as cybercriminals will be looking to take advantage of them over the peak season.

Children, elderly parents, and relatives who are not cyber-savvy need to be educated and protected from becoming victims of cybercrime.

“Today, there are parental controls that can be applied on mobile phones – similar to what you have on a TV. Most modern phones automatically come with application verification which allows you to download apps from trusted sources only,” Thomas says.

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