2021 has been the year of scams, phishing and other dodgy online activity.
On top of normal online scams, this year scammers have taken advantage of the huge uptick in online shopping by impersonating delivery services and sending out fake emails and SMSs.
And since there’s been a massive increase in legitimate messages coming from these services, it’s hard to identify the real communications from the fake ones.
Research from email and cyber resilience company Mimecast sheds light on this issue.
57% of Aussies have received a scam email at least once a month from industries like online retailers, delivery services and online banking while 46% have received a phishing email that was forwarded from friends or family, showing that sharing isn’t always caring.
Garrett O’Hara, Chief Field Technologist at Mimecast commented that conditions are ripe for cybercriminals looking to clean up in their own way during Black Friday, Cyber Monday and festive sales, with online festive season sales set to jump by 51% this year compared to 2020.
“This year has seen Australians in and out of lockdowns, shopping online and often forgetting about purchases in between clicking “Buy now” and the deliveries arriving.”
“It’s never been easier for cybercriminals to get people to click on malicious links, hand over personal information, and end up in a world of pain as they try to limit the damage.”
“It feels like Groundhog Day, but we know every year people go into an online frenzy just before Christmas. With sales starting earlier and people getting bombarded with email, SMS and social media marketing messages, it’s inevitable that there will be a cybercrime fallout.”
What are cybercriminals after?
- Your credit card information, which they’ll sell on to other attackers or use themselves.
- Your personal information, which is hugely valuable online and will be used to commit identity fraud or create other, more targeted spear-phishing attacks.
- Infecting your computer with malware.
Garrett offers tips to remain vigilant and avoid giving scammers what they want.
Beware of dodgy emails and SMS messages
It seems like one of the scams of choice for 2021 is fake delivery messages, asking people to click on a link and enter details to check the delivery status of a package.
This scam is easier than ever to fall for, given that lockdowns and some product shortages have driven a huge shift to online shopping. If you’re waiting on a delivery, go to the website from which you purchased the goods and confirm the status there.
Social doesn’t always mean safe
Cybercriminals masquerade as popular brands on social media, embedding dangerous links and promotions into posts that sucker people into handing over personal information.
This is prevalent with promotions and competitions. Double-check that the account is legitimate by searching for the company, rather than clicking on a link.
If it looks suspicious, don’t roll the dice!
Stay connected securely
We are constantly connected while traveling, grabbing a coffee, or commuting.
To keep your information and devices safe, always connect to a secure network – ideally from your own home. And make sure your network is protected by security software.
Use unique passwords
Some deals may offer a bigger discount when signing up for a vendor’s rewards program.
Why not save an extra 10%? When signing up for vendor rewards programs, use a unique password. That way, if a criminal gets hold of that password, they’ll be restricted from accessing your other accounts, including email and banking.
Create a unique password for every online service you use and use a password manager.