The Scariest Month of the Year

Snow, Christmas movies on TV, Christmas trees, tea and big sweaters…

These are all things that probably come to our mind when we say December. The festive season is approaching, and we feel certain coziness and warmth inside us.

‘’A month of lights, snow, and feasts. A time to make amends and tie up loose ends. A time to finish off what you started and hope your wishes come true.’’

And let’s not forget the festive shopping! A perfect time for sharing and surprising our loved ones with wonderful presents! So many discounts and amazing offers starting with Black Friday, Cyber Monday, following Christmas sales and continuing until New Year…

It is truly hard to resist, and all this makes us excited and happy!

And so, we often forget that there is another much darker side to this shopping season.

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The Nightmare Before Christmas

According to statistics, December is the month when users spend most of their money. Online sales boom because consumers are ready to spend more money than they usually do.

However, consumers aren’t the only ones looking to take advantage of the festive season – cyber criminals are increasingly exploiting the holiday period in order to trick users with their malicious campaigns designed to deliver malware.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are big targets for cyber attackers – but they don’t stop here. They increase their effort throughout December.

Security researchers remind that there was a 57.5 percent increase in attempted cyber-attacks during the holiday shopping season last year.

Therefore, both individuals and companies should expect a rise in attempted cyber-attacks this year too.

Biggest Effort Between Christmas and New Year

Traditionally, cyber-criminals make their biggest efforts and attempts in the period between Christmas and New Year, which is not surprising. This is when all retailers hold important and biggest sales.

Preying on users’ weak spot for discounts, cyber-criminals mostly try to trick users with false discount ads and phishing emails.

Many attackers will always attempt to target individual consumers for by clearing out their bank accounts or by selling fake or non-existent goods, but more organized and sophisticated hackers and hacking groups will aim for bigger scores.

What Works in Hackers’ Favor?

There are several advantages that work into cyber- criminals’ favor and they know it.

When it comes to business and companies, hackers are fully aware that festive season is a holiday season where most of employees will be on vacation leaving their companies understaffed or closed.

This leaves plenty of time for hackers’ attempts of delivering malware. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they will succeed but they have greater chances. If they succeed, they also have better chances of not getting spotted or caught.

On the other hand, when it comes to home users, most common attempts are mostly through phishing emails. The basic ways you can protect yourself from such scams is check the email’s structure, intention and sentence structure/grammar.

Do not click on unknown links and don’t be too quick to believe in amazing offers or gifts that are promised in the email. Double-check everything you read.

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Refund Threats

Recent studies showed that one of the biggest threats to retailers’ revenue loss are fraudulent refunds. Traditionally, during the holiday shopping season, there is a high number of returns, which leaves an opportunity for scammers to get away with their frauds.

What is even worse, a person doesn’t have to be a skillful hacker to engage in this. And unfortunately, every year refund scams are becoming better and better organized.

Fashion retailers and electronic industry are the ones who are mostly victims of fraudulent refunds.

Organized cyber-criminals frequently operate from outside the countries where the refund scams are taking place, which makes it extremely hard for retailers to prosecute them.

Make Sure It Stays a Joyous Season

Holiday season should stay a joyous season, so beware of cyber-crime attacks that can ruin your holiday.

Always remember that hackers have been preparing for the holidays for months (even more than you!) They also want gifts, presents and treats and are not afraid to take them from you!

Posted by Emre

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