Warning over risk of cybercrime ahead of Ireland’s biggest online shopping day

Ahead of Ireland’s biggest day for online shopping, cybercrime experts are warning shoppers to stay vigilant during the sales.

With consumers here spending an estimated €39m during Cyber Monday last year, the day poses an increased threat to consumers of falling victim to cybercriminals and hackers, tech security groups are warning.

“As we take advantage of the sales, cybercriminals will be waiting to take advantage of our desire to spend,” said Dell EMC Ireland country manager, Gerry Murray.

Online shoppers need to be aware of ‘too good to be true’ offers at all times, particularly around the weekend of Cyber Monday, as these offers are likely to be the ploys of cyber criminals, according to cybercrime expert and Irish chief executive of Cyber Risk International Paul C Dwyer.

Phishing-based email attacks or fake websites are a common tactic used by commercial hackers, Mr Dwyer said.

Phishing scams are a type of online fraud that trick people and businesses into handing over personal details by using malware and social engineering; These scams cost global organisations over €8bn annually, according to Dell.

“When you buy online, look out for signs of untrustworthiness. A suspicious URL, particularly if you’ve opened it in an unsolicited email, is a good indicator of a malicious website. Look out for a lock or shield icon on a website’s payment screen. That indicates your connection is secure and your personal details won’t be intercepted. If you’re suspicious of an email, particularly an unsolicited one, trust your gut and delete it,” said Mr Murray.

Keeping software up to date and using antivirus software will also help, Mr Dwyer said: “Even messages from known contacts can be corrupted and should be avoided or verified if they look at all unusual with spelling mistakes or strange content.”

Hackers will also focus on social media platforms by creating fake profiles and sites on social networking and e-commerce platforms to lure shoppers, Mr Dwyer said. Malicious content can lie hidden within these posts and links. A good sign of security is the ‘https’ in the address bar of a site, he said. Shoppers should search for this, as well as only visit websites they recognise.

Card or bank details should not be shared via email, social media or Facebook message, warned Mr Dwyer. Smartphone shopping is also a big risk for online shoppers as smartphones are attractive to cybercriminals using mobile apps, Mr Dwyer said.

Shoppers should avoid using wi-fi when buying online, as publicly shared web connections have increased dangers and threats. Shoppers should use a private internet connection that is secure and encrypted, Mr Dwyer said.

“Get into the habit of changing your password every six months and use a combination of random cases, numbers and symbols,” Dell’s Mr Murray said.

It’s also essential that you update your apps.


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