RSM warns of ‘cybercrime epidemic’ as Black Friday looms

RSM has warned of a potential wave of cybercrime over the coming days on a scale not seen before. The leading audit, tax and consulting firm predicts cybercrime could increase by as much as 50 per cent, as lockdown coupled with Christmas shopping creates a perfect storm for cybercrime.

As retail experts predict a massive rise in online shopping this Black Friday, RSM is urging organisations and consumers to take steps now to protect themselves from cybercriminals.

The UK’s online retail association, IMRG, predicts UK online retail sales could increase by 35-45 per cent this Black Friday, while figures from Springboard1 predict a 62 per cent reduction in retail footfall in the run up to Christmas. As national lockdown means the majority of shops remain closed, Black Friday and Cyber Monday bargains are already being scooped up online.

Sheila Pancholi, technical risk assurance partner at RSM said: ‘If consumers don’t heed the warning signs of suspicious online activity there is the potential of cybercrime incidents reaching epidemic proportions. This year has seen many small businesses adapt and develop their online retail services in response to lockdowns. Consumers are also pushed towards online shopping now more than ever as they try their best to prepare for Christmas amid a second national lockdown. This means both retailers and consumers will need to be on their guard and take the necessary steps to foil the fraudsters.’

RSM recommends the following steps to reduce the risks;

  1.  Use complex passwords with a combination of lower and upper case letters, numbers and symbols. Avoid using the same passwords for several different services, and use 2-factor authentication wherever possible.
  2. Ensure software is up to date, as software updates include important security updates and patches to fix any vulnerabilities that hackers may try to exploit.
  3. Avoid using public wi-fi as these networks are often not secure or monitored. Others connected to the same wi-fi network could gain access to your device and intercept network traffic, so it is important to avoid inputting personal data like credit card details over a public wi-fi network.
  4. Check the spelling and grammar of online offers received via email, as mistakes are often a clue that it is a phishing email. Cyber thieves located all over the world frequently use translation software which can misinterpret words, so if it is littered with errors and doesn’t look professional, it’s likely to be a scam.
  5. Don’t give away too much online when creating a new account – only provide the basic information needed to create the account. Attackers sometimes disguise requests for information in order to gather as much information as possible, then use this to conduct a cyberattack.
  6. Check the URL of any website you shop on begins with HTTPS, as this is a secure version of HTTP. It means the website is using a SSL certificate and ensures secure communication between your browser and the website.
  7. Remember, if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is! A very large discount is likely to be a trap to lure you into entering your credit card details.
  8. Think carefully before you click on any links in emails. Unsolicited and unexpected emails from unknown sources are likely to be from a scammer and should be deleted. Often links lead to dummy websites made to look like genuine sites, so it’s always best to navigate to the site yourself rather than via email links.
  9. Use a credit card where possible when shopping online, as if a fraudulent purchase is made on your card, there is a chance you could be reimbursed by your bank. Also, if a fraudster manages to get hold of your debit card details, they could use this to clear out your current account.
  10. Keep a close eye on your bank statements so you can spot any unusual activity. If you see any unauthorised payments, report these to your bank immediately.

For further information on protecting yourself and your business online please click here


1 Springboard is the leading provider of data and intelligence on customer activity in stores and destinations with customer counting and demographic profiling. 

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