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Online Privacy Concerns over Christmas Shopping

The Christmas holiday is approaching fast; both individuals and corporations wind up and head off for a relaxed end of the year. However, one group is starting to take the pace, ready to work, and use what they can give over the holidays. Cybercriminals from all around the world brace themselves for the steep uptake of internet purchases and the security laxity of corporations in the course of Christmas.Essentially, the Christmas period is a "feast for threat actors", according to security experts.

IBM reported that mobile device transactions account for 16.5% of all internet sales improved dramatically. Almost 30% of online seasonal shopping consists of smartphone traffic. The protection drawback is that cyber attackers create more malware applications or reinforce phishing efforts through smartphone and social networking channels. The sites deliver an increasing range of online retail services, and IBM expects a major uptick in cybercrime, intertwined primarily with data scams and identity theft.

Cybercriminals consider the holidays to be a good time to target their activities. It is important for internet users to understand the risks associated with online shopping and to discourage activities that could expose fraud to them.


Risk during the Christmas Holidays

There are environmental factors during the holidays that could further expose Internet users to the risk of cybercrime.

·       Be aware, particularly on mobile apps, of holiday phishing. During that time, there is a growing amount of malicious emails that serve malware as an attachment or links to affected websites. Mobile sites and social media are also a privileged medium for spreading phishing messages. Phishing messages provide exclusive offers, a holiday period that's characterized by a spike in online shopping. As a common practice, cybercriminals target bank customers and other financial institutions by asking victims to confirm information related to their account for security purposes.

·       Smishing messages direct the victims to access a site or call a phone number to provide confidential details, such as information on the credit card or the credentials of the bank. This category of scam involves fraudulent shipping alerts. Cybercriminals do this to send misleading messages to clients about their shipments' status. These messages usually involve a malicious link or malware. In the holiday season, internet users place several orders online, and they are very likely to receive delivery updates. This is why, especially during the holidays, this attack scheme is highly efficient.

·       For hackers, Wi-Fi hotspots are dangerous hunting grounds. Once they are linked to dangerous networks, consumers are not aware of the threats they are vulnerable to. That data gives an idea of the exposure users have on insecure Wi-Fi, but what is really important is that more than a third of them do not take any protective steps and have poor habits during navigation (e.g. sharing passwords, not logging off after having used a public WI-FI connection). Nearly any hotspot with Wi-Fi is insecure.


How to stay safe online during the holidays

These are a few tips to improve the protection of the online experience for users, particularly while shopping on holiday.

·       Keep anti-virus software up to date: before buying, check that all your mobile software is up to date, including your browser, your operating system's security updates, and other apps you may use.  You should also run firewall and anti-virus upgrades to ensure that you have the latest security updates.  Ensured that you have acceptable protection features and up-to-date operating system patches for your laptops, phones, and all other devices you have. 

·       Check your bank accounts and payment cards carefully. Be sure to verify your bank and credit card information and promptly report any international transactions. To do good practice for online trading, use credit cards or a credit card-linked PayPal account. Banks have various safeguards to prevent fraudulent withdrawals, but if your card is cloned you'll often have a delay before your money is returned whilst an investigation takes place. 

·       Don't download applications from unrecognized sources on your mobile device. Always use official app stores such as the Apple App Store, Google Play, and the Amazon App Store. Malware could be served by malicious software, and cybercriminals could use it to extract personal data, bank account information, and disrupt your holiday shopping. Applications must have only compulsory approvals to be careful of "permissions" given to any program that you run on your device. Always check the reputation of the app, looking for a secure device for your online shopping.

·       Use a secure and trusted VPN service to keep your online security intact. VPN not only help you encrypt your data and transmit it safely but it also help you to stay anonymous all the time.

The Christmas season shows a clear spike in cyber-criminal activities directed at businesses, individuals, and organizations. Although the safety situation during this time of year becomes especially real and critical, cybersecurity in truth is important 365 days of the year. This includes a consistent review of the business risk profile and the new ways of approaching customers. Auctioning and acknowledging this will allow organizations and individuals to best protect themselves against the current and materializing cyber threats.