1(630)802-8605 Ravi.das@bn-inc.net

Well, it is completely hard to believe that next Thursday is actually Thanksgiving, and the next day of course we know is that of Black Friday.  This is when shoppers get up at 4 AM or so in order to get special deals on stuff that they have always wanted to get.

I believe that the Monday after that is actually what is known as “Cyber Monday”, and this is where all of the major online retailers offer steep discounts on products and services as well.

But with all of these holiday festivities coming up, keep in mind that this is now prime time for the Cyber attacker to come out of their virtual caves on launch their attacks in order to gain access to your personal information and data.  As I have written before, the Cyber attacker has changed their tactics, in the sense that they just don’t launch their threats nilly willy anymore.

Rather, they come out when people least expect it and have their crowd down.  These are the times when the Cyber attacker is lurking around the most:

*Tax season;

*Thanksgiving and Christmas season;

*Times of natural disasters.

So, lets look at the second timeframe, which is now.  Why does the Cyber attacker come out during this time?   Well, one of the primary reasons is that people simply are just too busy or just don’t want to wait at the long lines to purchase their product.  So, they simply use their credit card, and have stuff delivered straight to their doorsteps, or to whomever they want to send the gift to.

In fact, Cyber security specialists have just put out a special bulletin just this week alerting the public that there are now 14 different Malware variants that will pose a serious threat both during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping days.  These are primarily banking Malware types, as many consumers will either be paying with their credit card or checking account.

The Malware types are as follows:

*Betabot;

*Panda;

*Gozi;

*Zeus;

*Chthonic;

*TinyNuke;

*Gootkit2;

*IcedID;

*SpyEye.

A Google search on them can reveal their more technical details, in case you are interested.  But these Malware variants have so far targeted at least 67 online E-Commerce based shopping sites, the specific breakdown of these targets are as follows:

*33 consumer apparel sites;

*8 consumer electronics sites;

*8 entertainment and gaming sites;

*3 telecoms sites;

*2 online payment sites;

More specific details can be found at these two links:

https://securelist.com/black-friday-alert/88856/

https://blog.radware.com/security/2018/11/online-security-concerns-split-uk-black-friday-shoppers/

My thoughts on this?

Although these are 14 different Malware variants, and it may not seem like a lot, but the effects of their damage can be far reaching, as demonstrated by the above statistics.  If it was me, I wouldn’t either want to the visit the brick and mortar stores; I would much rather shop online from the convenience and warmth of my own apartment.

So, what precautions can one take?  Well, it is the obvious, and stuff that I have written about all year long.  But here some key ones to remember:

*Always remember to shop at a secure website (this will be denoted by the “HTTPS” in the URL window);

*Never open any email attachments, or for that matter, even any text messages.  Just delete them right away;

*Always keep checking for any fraudulent activity on both your checking/savings and credit card accounts; at minimum, you should do this at least twice a day;

*Always shop at the most reputable E-Commerce sites (remember, cheap prices always does not guarantee safety);

*Be on the lookout for any suspicious or phony websites.  In the end, always trust your gut;

*Never, ever give out your financial information over the phone, unless you are initiating a business transaction.  Reputable E-Commerce stores will never ask this from you first;

*Also, be aware of any scam letters that you may via snail mail.  Remember, the Cyber attacker is not just virtual, he or she can also come out after you in the physical world as well;

*Always make purchases either with a check, cash or your credit card.  Never use your debit card.  The reason for this is that in case you are a victim of a Cyber-attack, there are limits set by Federal Law as to how much your damages are limited to (I think for a credit card the maximum is $50.00).  But with a debit card, your damages are not limited!!!

Remember, don’t be scared to shop for your loved ones, just keep the above tips in mind, and most importantly, have a proactive mindset.  If you still want more safe online shopping tips, you can do various Google searches to find them out.  Go out and have some fun!!!