Beware of this online holiday shopping risk

(KXAN) — A false click is all it takes for a hacker to lock your files or account and demand money.

It happened on Austin Tiny Pies Instagram last year.

“We got an email from someone. And we accidentally clicked on it – it looks legit. We clicked on it. And then it was a hacker, and they asked us to give them a ransom, or they threatened to delete our account,” Amanda Wadsworth, co-founder of Tiny Pies, a small business in Austin, told our sister station KXAN News.

Ransomware attackers can also threaten to reveal customer information on the dark web, and there’s a lot of that data out there right now.

“Enterprises are handling about 10 times more data than five years ago,” said Bobbie Stempfley, vice president and chief security officer of the Dell Technologies business unit.

“That’s an astronomical amount of data,” she added.

She said there had been an increase in attempted attacks. In fact, she said companies like Dell have to defend them on a daily basis.

“It’s an environment where when you put better protections in place, threat actors work to find better ways to circumvent those protections,” Stempfley said.

She said Dell constantly conducts training and simulations for employees throughout the year so they don’t fall for ransomware attacks like phishing – when hackers try to lure you through email. email to click on a fake link.

Holiday shoppers beware

Security firm Tanium said attacks like these increase during the holiday shopping season, as hackers try to capitalize on the influx of people surfing the web for deals.

“You’re potentially going to want to look for people impersonating your brand, stealing websites or sending emails,” said Melissa Bischoping, director of endpoint security research at Tanium.

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It’s not just the companies that own your data that need to be wary of attacks, Bischoping said. Buyers should also be aware.

“Be aware when you receive an email, perhaps announcing a holiday sale. Check and browse the official app or official website you trust instead of just clicking the link in the email “, she explained.

She said another common holiday scam is using botnets, which scavenge inventory for some of the most in-demand products so they can sell it at a markup.

Bischoping said technology has made it easier for hackers to strike.

“It is much easier than ever for cybercriminals to enter the market by purchasing these types of pre-made kits to distribute their malware or create their own botnet. And that helps us see more activity,” she said.

All this corresponds to the busiest time of the year for your favorite stores.

“Security personnel can be weak for people on vacation and the security operations team is running around like elves at the North Pole, trying to stay ahead of the increased demand as well as the increase in threat actors,” said said Bischoping.

Safety tips

  • If you receive an email about a commercial sale, go directly to the company’s website instead of clicking on links.
  • Keep an extra eye on your credit card this season for possible fraudulent charges.
  • Use different passwords for the different websites you shop on. So if one company is hacked, your financial information will not be misused by another company.


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