12 scams to watch out for this holiday season: McAfee

  • Cybersecurity threats heighten during the holiday season
  • How shoppers can avoid unwrapping online threats
12 scams to watch out for this holiday season: McAfee

SECURITY specialist McAfee, part of Intel Security, has announced its annual 12 Scams of the Holidays list to educate the public on the most popular ways cybercriminals scam consumers during the holiday season as they surf their digital devices.
Cyber-scammers leverage all types of digital devices, social media platforms and mobile apps to take advantage of consumers’ distraction during this festive and busy time of year, McAfee said in a statement.
Consumers in Asia Pacific are expected to spend more on e-commerce purchases than those in North America, the company said.
This year alone, B2C (business-to-consumer) e-commerce sales are expected to reach US$525.2 billion in the region, it quoted eMarketer as reporting.
With Asia Pacific claiming 46% of digital buyers worldwide in 2014, the role of online shopping and the need for security measures to protect consumers has never been stronger.
“With more consumers on the hunt for bargains during the holidays and looking for means to make their shopping as convenient as possible, many go online and onto their devices – something cybercriminals are very much aware of,” said David Freer, vice president of McAfee’s consumer business in Asia Pacific.
“However, all it takes is awareness and some simple precautionary measures to keep their digital lives safe and not spoil the year-end spirit,” he added.
To help educate and protect consumers and businesses this holiday season, McAfee has identified this year’s top 12 Scams of the Holidays (click infographic below to enlarge):

12 scams to watch out for this holiday season: McAfee

To stay protected and ensure a happy and safe holiday season, McAfee has shared these safety tips:
Do your research
Whether online shopping, donating to charities, or tracking your gifts, do your research to make sure the company you are working with is legitimate.

  • Do an online search of the company you’re buying items from to see if there’s any news about recent risks;
  • Go to the company’s homepage to make sure it is a genuine business; and
  • Instead of clicking on a link in an email for a shopping deal, visit the site directly

Analyse apps
Before downloading a new app, review it to make sure you know exactly what you’re putting on your smartphone.

  • Only download apps from an official app store and not a third party;
  • If the app requests too many permissions, do not download it. It may be requesting access to information on your phone that you would prefer to keep private, and certainly more information than it needs; and
  • Use antivirus software and learn more about FakeInstallers here.

Bank carefully
People are spending more money during the holidays than they do all year. Cybercriminals may try and use this fact to more easily scam consumers.

  • If your bank calls requesting information, hang up and call them back through the official main phone number. It’s important to talk to your banker through the official number so you know it is legitimate;
  • When withdrawing money, be aware of your surroundings. Check to make sure that you are in a safe place to enter your information. If anything looks amiss, leave; and
  • Inspect the ATM (automatic teller machine) for loose wires or machine parts that may have been tampered with. This could indicate hackers trying to fix the machine for their benefit

Stay informed
Holiday season or not, cyberscams and identity theft happen very frequently throughout the year. Now that shopping season has begun and the danger is heightened, it is important to constantly be aware of new cyber-attacks or threats in the marketplace.

  • Follow breaking news stories for new security breaches to stay alert and be on top of your game;
  • Only shop for holiday gifts at retailers you know have not been compromised; and
  • Check your credit card statements often to make sure that you were not affected.

Educate your employees
You’ll want to make sure that your employees know how to protect themselves, and their devices with your sensitive company information – at all times, but especially during this hectic holiday travel and shopping season when devices are more likely to get misplaced and people let their guard down.

  • Ensure devices are secured with complex passcodes to allow access to smartphones, tablets or laptops; and
  • Share the most common scams that exist around the holidays with your employees so they know what to be on the lookout for and how to stay protected.

Related Stories:
McAfee warns of the ‘12 scams of Christmas’
‘Nigerian’ scammers take advantage of Ebola
Social media worm resurgent, spam surges: McAfee

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