Black Friday: Enjoying Black Friday? Beware of electronic criminals

concept of something Black Friday and the Cyber ​​Monday sale was pretty unheard of in India until recently. However, this year, from fashion and home decor to nutritional supplements and home appliances, virtually every brand is trying to lure consumers in with special Black Friday discounts.

And cybersecurity experts are urging caution because the frenzy of consumers looking to snag the best deals also creates a fertile environment for cybercriminals.

Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving in the US when most stores offer huge discounts and people start their Christmas shopping. Cyber ​​Monday is the Monday after Thanksgiving when e-commerce companies offer big deals.

“Global online shopping events have become more popular from India,” said Sundar Balasubramanian, managing director for India and Saark at Check Point Software, a US-Israeli information security company. These include not only the Black Friday and Cyber ​​Monday shopping events featured on global websites like Amazon, but also local e-commerce players like Mintra, Tata Click Luxury and Chroma, which also delivered impressive deals to customers this year, he added. “Last year, leading up to Black Friday, the number of malicious web stores increased by 178% worldwide; therefore, we urge shoppers to be on the lookout for online scams this Black Friday,” Balasubramanyan said.

Open up your Instagram or try browsing any website and chances are you’ll be bombarded with Black Friday sale ads from various brands. In India, popular brands such as Marks & Spencer and H&M, as well as direct-to-consumer brands such as Nestasia and BlissClub advertised their Black Friday deals all week.

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As a general rule, the holiday season is the best time for a range of cybercrimes. Based on the eCrime Index of an American cybersecurity company CrowdStrikeMalicious activity peaks around the holiday season, with attackers trying to use phishing campaigns, opportunistic scams, attacks on payment systems, and disruptive operations in the form of data theft, ransomware campaigns, or extortion for financial gain.

Consumers need to be extra careful about which links they click on and how they get to a particular website, especially if it’s a brand they’re not familiar with. While difficult to gauge, the websites of many Indian brands can be spoofed, the companies have said that Black Friday scams are fast becoming a global phenomenon at varying levels of cybercrime and have warned consumers about deals that seem too good to be true.

“During the holiday season, the rise in online commerce and the general distraction as people focus on activities at the end of the year creates a favorable environment for electronic criminals,” said Adam Meyers, senior vice president of intelligence for CrowdStrike.

The CrowdStrike Global Security Attitude Survey 2021 found identity compromise (password/credential theft) to be one of the top security concerns for Indian respondents, with 49% saying they were concerned about identity and credential theft. Electronic crime accounts for 33% of interactive intrusions in Asia Pacific and Japan, with retail being among the top five industries most affected.

researchers CloudSEK observed a number of threats and potentially malicious campaigns ahead of Black Friday 2022. They range from impersonating legitimate websites to distributing malicious applications. “The iconic Black Friday sale has become a global topic, with cybercriminals of all levels and experience going out of their way to launch malicious campaigns. Most of these campaigns misuse or impersonate popular brands and service providers to deceive the public,” says Rishika Desai, Cyber ​​Threat Researcher at CloudSEK.

Security companies are advising consumers to be especially careful about where they share their credentials and make payments, and avoid anything that appears suspicious.

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