Online shopping, an advantage for hackers.

Black Friday and Christmas shopping increase online sales and hackers know it. Find out how to stay safe when online shopping.

Online shopping, as well as online business has been increasing in conjunction with the development of the internet; it is estimated that around 21.8% of the world’s population buys online; which ensures a large market that is increasing year by year. This has resulted in a significant increase in online stores and businesses. Although in the same way hackers have noticed this important increase in this lucrative business; they have also taken advantage of these opportunities to try to take advantage of unsuspecting buyers. So this time we will take a look at the dangers of online shopping and how we can be prepared.

Online shopping


A considerable part of the digital economy is based on e-commerce; the digital purchase and sale expresses a facility for users because it is easy, fast and available at any time, regardless of your country of origin; in addition; most of these businesses accept a wide variety of payments, from paypal to crypto-currency; which creates an advantage and reduces the purchase restrictions of individuals; thus increasing the number of users who are encouraged to buy online.

Normally there are times of the year when online sales increase worldwide; most tend to be in times of discounts like the famous “Black Friday” where thousands of stores both physical and online add discounts to their products for a limited time; creating a wave of buying and selling from early hours.

This celebration originated in the United States decades ago and has become popular by reaching several countries; it is usually celebrated one day after Thanksgiving; however depending on the country it can last several days or even a week. During these days the sales in the businesses grow exponentially since most of the people buy a great amount of things between clothes, gifts for Christmas, articles for the home; consoles of video games and domestic appliances among other things. The most used retail platforms for online shopping this 2020 were:

The effect of the pandemic on online shopping

Let’s talk now about what’s happening this year, the Covid-19 pandemic has had a series of impacts in many areas of the economy; many physical stores have been forced to close their doors which has forced owners to reinvent themselves and look for new solutions to continue with their businesses; that’s where the internet comes in, as we saw; online businesses offer many growth opportunities for the owners of these businesses; for which many have decided to migrate to this digital environment in the hope of keeping their businesses afloat.

Likewise, but looking from the perspective of the buyer; this pandemic has created a great panic among the world’s population; so health prevention measures such as social distancing and quarantine have been implemented. This has caused an almost instantaneous decrease in physical purchases; causing people to increase the habit of buying online. During the quarantine months there was an increase in the areas of electronics, gardening, DIY, pharmaceuticals, education, furniture, household products; and cosmetics or personal care. On the other hand; sales in the tourism area decreased almost to 0% due to the prohibition of national and international flights in different countries during the quarantine.

The dangers of online shopping from a cyber security perspective

Due to the great popularity of the online stores and businesses mentioned above; it is to be imagined that there are a series of risks and dangers that harm both the seller and the buyer.  Normally these risks can come from many sources; including fraud, viruses, theft and identity theft, among others. We will now look at these risks in more detail:

  • Bank fraud: Credit and debit card fraud is perhaps one of the most widespread attacks by cyber-attackers when it comes to online purchases. This consists of using a person’s debit or credit card details to make purchases in their name or withdraw money from their bank account directly.
  • DDoS attacks: Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks consist of collapsing a website with thousands of requests for IP addresses that are difficult or directly impossible to trace, which are manipulated by loT devices (devices that are equipped with an Internet connection and specific software features, on which physical quantifications can be measured or acted upon remotely). Cyber-crooks generally apply this technique to disconnect the site, leaving it unprotected, in order to graft in malware.

Some other dangers

  • Phishing: This technique is being increasingly used by cyber-attacks, as people are becoming more aware of viruses or malware hidden in suspicious websites or spam-type advertisements. The use of phishing allows them to use social engineering to trick people into stealing sensitive information. Many people are becoming increasingly aware of this type of scam; so attackers are constantly seeking to perfect this technique by using methods to make their scams more credible. To learn more about this specific topic you can visit our article about phishing and its dangers here.
  • Ransomwares: This type of attack is more general as it affects several sectors more than just digital commerce; but it is equally important to stress that cyber-crooks are looking for people from whom they can make a profit; so their target is more likely to be people with this income, such as online buyers and the sellers or business owners themselves. They therefore take advantage of these sites to implement misleading advertising and spam containing viruses, whether spyware; worms or restricting access to computers.

How to buy online safely?

As always we bring a series of recommendations that will help you to be more secure when buying or selling online; also if you have an online store or business that requires computer security; you can feel free to contact our team.

  • Be sure to protect your devices: especially those you use for work, keep your patches updated, a good antivirus or firewall can be of great help to avoid ransomwares attacks or any other infection.
  • Be aware of phishing and social engineering: this is advice we have given previously but it is one of the most useful, avoid sharing sensitive information with unauthorized people or people you cannot identify, avoid downloading suspicious email files, verify the identity of people who want to contact you on behalf of someone else, as they generally use the excuse that some boss or senior person in the company requires a transfer or requires you to install some file inserted in that email. Also for buyers, it is advisable that you research the websites you want to buy from, check their reputation, social networks, etc. This way you can be sure to buy from a quality site and avoid scams.

Some other tips

  • Store what you need: this is a good step that can save you a lot of trouble, when making a sale it is necessary to have a personal receipt for statistics and accounting, however it is advisable to store only the most essential data because by saving this type of information you run a greater risk that your customers may be harmed in the process of an attack on their computers. In the same way, it is advisable to store this type of information in safe places, whether on an external disk, in the cloud or directly in physical form.
  • Increase verification and keep keys secure: Add two-step verification or verification of various factors to increase the security of your website, as this resource prevents anyone from entering without authorization and makes the hacker’s job much more complicated. As far as keys are concerned, this advice is aimed at both the buyer and the seller, maintaining unique keys, which include special characters, numbers, capital letters, etc; it is essential for each login or access, as this makes it more complicated to decipher them and to be hacked.

After this pandemic, it will be our job to adapt to the new reality, so it is more likely that people will continue to shop online, as it offers many benefits in terms of convenience and ease for individuals as well as for store and business owners. So it is everyone’s responsibility to carry out good practices for our online shopping.

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