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Is Black Friday just a gimmick for Cybercriminals to exploit?

Posted on Friday, November 24th, 2017 in

Black Friday; the time of the year where shoppers wrestle for 50” 4k televisions, designer handbags or 10 ft teddy bears in an attempt to find the ‘bargain of the year’ and save money in anticipation for the expensive Christmas period.

Originating from the United States, Black Friday is often referred to as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season, however the marketing tradition has now become a global phenomenon, with Cyber Monday forming a full weekend of gaping opportunities for retailers and consumers.

The rush of Black Friday deals prompts excitement and merrymaking for shoppers, but the fun and games can easily take a turn for the worse! In 2016, it is estimated that almost £16 million was lost due to Christmas shopping fraud.

Gimmick for criminals to exploit or bargain for consumers?

Black Friday is often perceived to be a time of the year where products are available for a much cheaper price, but are the public just falling victim to a deceiving promotional campaign?

Expert industry product reviewers and testers company ‘Which?’ conducted research examining the pricing of promoted products on Black Friday, in comparison with product pricing over the rest of the year. They found that around 60% of a selection of deals from Black Friday 2016, could actually be found either cheaper or at the same price during different times of the year. 

With this in mind, Cybercriminals have found the perfect opportunity to exploit a marketing frenzy that takes over the internet for sometimes over a week in late November.

Pandora’s many fake boxes

Danish jewellery manufacturers and retailer, Pandora, have now become a household name within the UK, recognised for providing perfect jewellery gifts amongst celebratory times.

Recently, however, in the build-up to Black Friday and Christmas, Cybercriminals have attempted to victimise Pandora consumers by setting up fake ‘Pandora’ websites, offering upto 70% discount on its products.

The cybercriminals used malicious approaches such as creating realistic and convincing URL’s including www.pandoraukoutlets.com, www.pandorasukstores.com and www.pandoraukeonline.com, coordinating the branding of the websites to match that of ‘Pandora’, to make them appear genuine and authentic to that of Pandora.

An individual victimised from the fake Pandora websites, reported that they had ordered several charms to the value of £235, however they were billed £265, and they are still yet to receive their items.

Martin Nielson, Head of Brand at Pandora, commented “At Pandora, we are fully aware that there are dark forces out there who seek to exploit and misuse our strong brand with counterfeit jewellery.

“This is obviously completely unacceptable and we are taking and will continue to take necessary measures to end this practice. We closely monitor the situation as it is important for us to protect our brand”.  Source: Mirror

Cybercriminals of this matter pose several threats, not only to the consumers of the brand but to the brand itself, in that their hard built reputation and trust can be diminished. 

Black Friday in the workplace

Do you know what your employees are doing on their lunch break?

What if they are shopping online using workplace devices, trying to find the best last minute Black Friday deal? 

A recent study found that 36% of workers spend some part of their work time doing online shopping.The average time spent shopping while at work was 114 minutes a week per person, that’s nearly 2 hours a week, with online shopping reportedly costing businesses $436 million (£328 million) a week in wages.

Employers will not take kindly to these figures, especially if employees are using workplace devices.

Workers who have access to the internet through workplace devices can present consequential cyber threats, to both themselves and the organisation. Not only can a cyber breach cause issues to the computer’s usability, which in turn could affect business operations, but customer information can also be stolen, causing detrimental business difficulties.

Using workplace devices for personal shopping, not only puts the employee’s personal data at risk but the organization’s data at risk. If your employees are using work devices for personal use when on breaks, make sure they are browsing on trusted websites. 

Our Black Friday and Cyber Monday online security guide

The spending average for Black Friday is set to increase from £170 to £200, accumulating for over £5 billion in retail sales over the one weekend alone. 41% of Black Friday spending is estimated to be accomplished through either a laptop or desktop device, with 31% through mobile devices.

Make sure that you are on the watch out this weekend, and don’t fall victim to a Black Friday cyber scam.

Here is a quick guide to keep you safe whilst shopping online:

  • Check the authenticity of websites- Major web browsers will display a closed padlock at the start of the URL to signify that their site is secure.By clicking on the padlocks icon next to the website URL, you are able to read information about the website and check the security certificate provided. Ensure that the website has an HTTPS connection along with a valid encryption certificate.
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  • Be careful when using public wifi- When shopping online, avoid using public wifi networks. Public wifi networks pose serious security threats, allowing hackers to take advantage of the lack of security. Make sure that when you shop online you are using a trusted Wifi network.
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  • Secure payment- Make sure that when making purchases you use a secure payment method such as Paypal or a prepaid limited use debit and credit card. Never send personal information such as passwords and bank account numbers through email.
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  • Too good to be true-  Black Friday is all about cheap deals and exciting offers, but remember, if the deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
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  • Search the site through a search engine-  If a site is suspicious, often there will be others talking about the site online. Do a quick search to see if the website has any suspicious feedback or reviews.
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  • Stay alert and recognise the risks of rushing - Amongst the rush and buzz of Black Friday deals, make sure you stay alert to any suspicious deals and always think twice before clicking on links and entering any personal details.
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