The Managing Director of a Midlands Based IT Company has warned Christmas shoppers of the potential dangers of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
‘Black Friday is the beginning of the festive season for hackers, allowing them to take advantage of less-careful shoppers eager to grab a bargain,’ said Chris Roche, the IT security expert who set up award winning ACUTEC in 1995.
‘Black Friday is the perfect event for hackers. Internet traffic and transactions are high and everyone is looking to save money when buying their Christmas gifts.’
ACUTEC have spent the past year promoting the importance of cyber security and ensuring that end users are fully aware of the risks that they are opening themselves up to.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are brilliant events for consumers getting ready for Christmas, with retailers offering promotional sales and hiked discounts. Last year's Black Friday saw British shoppers spend £2 billion in stores and online in just 24 hours. It is also the time when online fraudsters are most likely to strike as people are not as careful as they normally would be and get caught up in trying to get the best price.
It’s also not just through hacking that cybercriminals take advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Fake websites are used to gather sensitive information by masquerading as trusted retailers such as Amazon or Apple. Consumers making payments to these sites can expect to receive inferior goods, if anything is received at all. Phishing emails are also sent out pretending to be from trusted sources in the hope of receiving sensitive information or payment.
Roche advised shoppers to use credit cards instead of debit over the festive period as it is easier to get any funds back if something were to go wrong. He suggested that if the option was available to use PayPal and to be suspicious of any company asking for a bank transfer. Roche also advised to not use public wi-fi spots when shopping as shared networks are easy to get into and access information.
Roche, as a Microsoft Gold Partner, was present when the Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond announced the UK’s Cyber Security Strategy at Microsoft’s Future Decoded. ACUTEC are now planning on adopting the three pillars of Deter, Detect and Defend within their strategy.
‘The key thing is to remain vigilant. It’s so easy to trust an email because you think you know where it has come from. We know that human error is still the biggest threat to security and it is up to everyone to make sure that they taking steps to be careful and protect themselves.’