Consumers and businesses alike find the holiday shopping season as a very attractive time. Businesses enjoy the increased traffic, and consumers love the deals that arise during the season. Unfortunately, another entity that finds this season particularly rewarding is cyber criminals. The increased online purchase activity gives cyber criminals a slew of opportunities to purloin credit card and other financial information.
A recent study done in November by Kaspersky Labs displayed a significant rise in the amount of users who encountered malware that was capable of stealing financial information or funds in the last quarter of 2016. According to their study, the number of users that encountered this type of malware in Q4 2016 was 319,000, which was 22.49% more than in the same period in 2015. Kaspersky has concluded that cyber criminals are attempting to target their campaigns around certain holiday dates.
The Most Appealing Day for Cyber Criminals
When reviewing the collected data, Kaspersky found that the most attractive day to cyber criminals during this season was Cyber Monday (November 28th). Cyber Monday is dedicated to online shopping and sales all over the world. Kaspersky detected a significant spike in the amount of users attacked on this day, and it was found to be twice as many than during the previous day. With Cyber Monday being focused upon online transactions, it would make more sense for cyber criminals to focus campaigns upon this date. Whereas, with other holidays, the spikes were noticed one or two days prior to the actual holiday date.
Kaspersky also looked into what malware was employed for the attacks during the season. According to their study, “To reach their goals, criminals used one of 30 families of banking trojans, consistently tracked by Kaspersky Lab. Five of these are the most widespread: Zbot, Nymaim, Shiotob, Gozi and Neurevt. These trojans are responsible for attacks against 92.35% of users in the holiday period.”
Staying Protected During the Holiday Season
With this type of increased online threat activity, it is important for consumers to know how to protect themselves from attacks. There are several things an individual can do to help keep their information safe during online financial activities. Never click on links contained in emails or messages from unknown senders, or links from friends or family that seem suspicious. Be sure to verify websites before entering any financial information. This can often be done by simply looking at the URL, as fake sites will be similar to the legitimate site, but slightly different. Ensure there is proper security software installed on your device, and that it includes some sort of financial transaction protection.