Webroot, a leading provider of security solutions for the consumer, enterprise and SMB markets, is warning online shoppers of an increase in cyber threats this holiday season. The online holiday shopping season, and the peak of these online threats, is expected to hit its highest point on "Cyber Monday," the day after the Thanksgiving weekend in the US, and continue through the holiday shopping season.
"Last year we saw an 87 percent increase in malicious URLs between October and December. These sites are typically used to trick shoppers into giving their credit or debit card numbers, or to download malware," said Peter Watkins, CEO, Webroot. "Shopping online can be a lot easier and save time, especially during the holidays, but people need to make sure they have the right protection in place so they don’t enter the New Year as a victim of identity theft."
Though overall holiday sales this year are expected to decline, a recent report by eMarketer estimates that online holiday season sales will reach $32 billion in 2008, up 10 percent over 2007. The report states that in order to save money on holiday gifts, consumers will turn to the Internet to get gift ideas, find bargains and that shoppers will shift a larger share of their purchases from stores to the Internet to save gas.
To protect themselves during any online shopping experience, consumers need to be aware of the security risks and necessary precautions they should take to avoid being a victim of cyber crime. Since the October to December timeframe will be a key money-making season for today’s financially motivated cyber criminals Webroot is recommending that consumers follow these five steps:
- Install Security Software: A layered approach to security is best. At a minimum, your PC should have antispyware, antivirus and firewall. software installed and up-to-date
- Know the Retailer: Do business with companies you already know and trust. If you are unfamiliar with the retailer you want to purchase from, it is best to look for more information about the company. You can do this by contacting the Better Business Bureau or the Office of the State Attorney General (in the state where the retailer is located), which can be accessed through the National Association of Attorneys General.
- Monitor Your Credit: Many victims do not realize they are victims until they have lost money. It is important to monitor your credit report and/or credit status on a regular basis to quickly spot anything unusual. Credit reporting agencies such as Equifax, Experian and TransUnion are good resources to utilize.
- Use a Credit Card not a Debit Card: If you are a victim of fraud or cyber crime, most credit card agreements limit your liability for the charges. Additionally, U.S. Federal law limits your liability for unauthorized charges to $50 if a credit card is used.
- Ask About a "Single Use" Credit Card: Many credit card companies are using a new technology that allows them to issue single use credit card numbers for online purchases – you can avoid using your real credit card number online.