The Covid-19 pandemic has been a boon for online shopping websites as people are reluctant to step out and go to the stores and risk contracting the virus. This has also had a negative impact on consumers as there has been a massive spike in phishing campaigns targeting customers with keywords like ”special offers”. The massive surge in phishing activities has been reported by cyber-security firm Check Point Research on November 17.
During the record-breaking online shopping season, US consumers spent a total of $21.7 billion registering a 21 per cent increase compared to the previous year. Also, on November 11 Alibaba recorded a total of $74 billion in sales, which is double the record on the previous Chinese Singles’ Day.
The rise has been reported all over the world as online shoppers are easily attracted by offers. Phishing is basically a fraudulent attempt to get your debit/credit card details while disguising itself as an authentic shopping website like Amazon, Alibaba and others.
The “special offers” related phishing campaigns doubled during the period between October 8 and November 9 as 243 such campaigns have been reported globally compared to the 121 in the previous month. Keywords like “special”, “offer”, “sale”, “cheap”, “% off” were used as the first half of November saw an increase of 80 percent. One out of 826 emails was a phishing email in November compared to one in 11,000 recorded at the start of October is what Check Point Research’s analysis showed.
Researchers were able to find a phishing website disguising itself as the jewellery company “Pandora”. The investigation revealed that the spoof emails were made to appear as if they were sent by Amazon, but it wasn’t the case. Further investigation revealed that these websites were created in October end and November start to scam online buyers. Check Point predicts an increase in phishing attacks in the US as Black Friday and Cyber Monday events are still ahead.
How to avoid phishing attacks?
1. First of all, most of these offers seem too good to be true. It is advised to check offers from multiple sources before moving forward. For example, you would not be getting an 80 per cent discount on a newly released smartphone right away.
2. Always look for misspelled words no matter whether you opened the link from Instagram, Facebook, or your email.
3. Don’t go resetting your password just because a website prompted you to do it. Avoid clicking on suspicious links.
4. Always keep an eye on the details while making the payment. Fraud websites don’t have secure sockets layer (SSL) encryption installed. In order to figure this out, look for “S” in HTTPS and not just HTTP. If the site is legitimate, an icon of a locked padlock will be visible in the address bar or the status bar below.
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