Buyer beware: Hackers target Black Friday/Cyber Monday shopping weekend

black friday cyber monday onlineshoppers targeted by hackers frustrated worker phil gradwell
While many consumers are currently counting their pennies and stashing them all away for the post-Thanksgiving sales marathon, hackers are banking on a jackpot of their own right now. While Cyber Monday is a likely target due to all the revenue this one-day online event can generate, consumers are now warned that Black Friday shoppers seeking deals online will be targeted as well.

Digital risk management service RiskIQ recently released a four-page report called the Black Friday eCommerce Blacklist that reveals how hackers will attack shoppers during the Black Friday shopping season and where they plan to target. According to the report, 30 percent of the Black Friday/Cyber Monday shoppers will purchase discounted items on the mobile device, making them easy targets.

Why? RiskIQ states that mobile device owners are at risk of loading up phishing pages claiming big product discounts, malicious apps that promise to make the shopping season easier, and the resulting viruses that install themselves and steal money and personal data. Malicious Black Friday apps may even lock the mobile device until the owner coughs up a hefty ransom.

The report states that one out of 10 mobile apps that pop up when performing a Black Friday search on global app stores are listed as malicious. Hackers are also focusing on five leading retailers, providing more than 1 million blacklisted apps combined. The report doesn’t provide the names of the actual online retailers, but lists them as brands instead. Here is what RiskIQ found:

Total Number of Apps Number of Blacklisted Apps
Brand 1: 12,971 1,093
Brand 2: 2,911,141 410,094
Brand 3: 39,443 6,367
Brand 4: 770,380 112,254
Brand 5: 3,121,706 470,522

“While RiskIQ sees the majority of malicious applications hosted on third-party app stores that few American consumers know of, official stores run by Apple and Google have been observed hosting malicious apps,” the report states. “It’s important to realize that protection by most mobile app stores is good, but not bulletproof, and even the official App Stores host apps that can be dangerous.”

On the online shopping front outside mobile devices, there are more than 1,950 blacklisted website addresses associated with Black Friday and the top five leading online retailers. Again, these retailers aren’t listed by name in the report, but the fake websites are linked to spam, malware, and phishing schemes. Here is another chart showing the number of sites that are linked to a specific attack:

Spam Malware Phishing
Brand 1: 249 218 79
Brand 2: 159 142 37
Brand 3: 41 140 29
Brand 4: 147 218 73
Brand 5: 87 194 79

Ultimately, the report insists that shoppers looking for a great deal online on Black Friday and Cyber Monday should pay close attention to links provided on social media channels. Consumers should also make sure the website address starts with “HTTPS,” which means the site provides a secure connection between the server and the visitor. Also, consumers should never provide a credit card number outside a secure online shopping portal and don’t fall for the scams that reward victims with fake promises of coupons or free merchandise.

“For shoppers, what starts out as an attempt to fulfill their holiday shopping checklist for pennies on the dollar can turn into a financial nightmare. For brands, what begins as an event that significantly boosts sales can turn into a security fiasco that erodes the trust between them and their customers and prospects — talk about indigestion,” RiskIQ states.

On a whole, consumers looking for great online deals on Black Friday and Cyber Monday can keep safe by triple-checking websites and mobile apps before entering personal and/or credit card information. Happy shopping!


The best 4K TV deals under $500 and over 50 inches

Big-screen TVs with high-resolution displays and 4K color have dropped so far in price that you can find highly rated 50 to 55-inch models under $500. We searched major retailers for the best deals on 4K UHD TVs.

Today’s best Amazon deals: Bose, Keurig, and Butterball

Black Friday and Cyber Monday may be over, but for retail giants like Amazon, the savings are only getting started. We've scoured the depths of Amazon to find you the very best deals going on right now.

The best iPhone deals for December 2018

Apple devices can get expensive, but if you just can't live without iOS, don't despair: We've curated an up-to-date list of all of the absolute best iPhone deals available for December 2018.

The best iPad deals for December 2018

In the wide world of tablets, Apple is still the king. If you're on team Apple and just can't live without iOS, we've curated an up-to-date list of all of the best iPad deals currently available for December 2018.

Google’s updated Santa Tracker entertains and teaches coding throughout December

Google's Santa Tracker is in its fifteenth year and is back again with even more features. You can have fun with more than 20 games, learn about different holiday traditions around the world, and enjoy some festive animations.

Worried about your online privacy? We tested the best VPN services

Browsing the web can be less secure than most users would hope. If that concerns you, a virtual private network — aka a VPN — is a decent solution. Check out a few of the best VPN services on the market.

Microsoft is ‘handing even more of online life’ to Google, Mozilla CEO says

Not everyone is happy with Microsoft's switch to Google's Chromium engine. In a new blog post, Mozilla CEO Chris Beard writes that he believes the move is "handing online life control" to Google.

Edit, sign, append, and save with six of the best PDF editors

There are plenty of PDF editors to be had online, and though the selection is robust, finding a solid solution with the tools you need can be tough. Here, we've rounded up best PDF editors, so you can edit no matter your budget or OS.

How to easily record your laptop screen with apps you already have

Learning how to record your computer screen shouldn't be a challenge. Lucky for you, our comprehensive guide lays out how to do so using a host of methods, including both free and premium utilities, in both MacOS and Windows 10.

From beautiful to downright weird, check out these great dual monitor wallpapers

Multitasking with two monitors doesn't necessarily mean you need to split your screens with two separate wallpapers. From beautiful to downright weird, here are our top sites for finding the best dual monitor wallpapers for you.

Google Translate updated to reduce gender bias in its translations

Google is changing how Google Translate offers translations. Previously when you entered a word like doctor, Translate would offer a masculine interpretation of the word. Now, Translate will offer both masculine and feminine versions.

Encryption-busting law passed in Australia may have global privacy implications

Controversial laws have been passed in Australia which oblige tech companies to allow the police to access encrypted messages, undermining the privacy of encryption with potentially global effects.

Can Microsoft’s Airband Initiative close broadband gap for 25M Americans?

A new report from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) says that 25 million Americans do not have access to broadband internet. Of these, more than 19 million are living in rural communities. Can Microsoft help out?

Microsoft’s Chromium Edge browser may be adding your Chrome extensions

Fans sticking to Google Chrome because due to its vast extension library might be able to switch over to Microsoft's latest iteration of Edge, as a project manager confirms that the company has its eyes on Chrome extensions.