Sophos advises online shoppers to use caution this holiday season

November 21, 2007 Sophos Press Release

It may be the time for holiday celebrations, but online consumers need to keep security in mind
It may be the time for holiday celebrations, but online consumers need to keep security in mind.

The day after American Thanksgiving, also known as Black Friday, is a time when millions of shoppers in the U.S. are expected to line up in front of stores in the early morning hours to take advantage of some of the biggest sales of the season. However, for the last two years, Cyber Monday - the Monday following Black Friday - has become the most popular shopping day for online consumers. The temptation of low shipping costs, discounted merchandise and the elimination of competition between other mall shoppers has made online shopping far more alluring.

A recent poll conducted by IT security and control firm Sophos indicates that 73 percent of consumers plan to shop online this holiday season. That figure is an increase from last year's 71 percent and illustrates the popularity of online shopping. While consumers have taken advantage of bargains available on Cyber Monday, cybercriminals have also honed in on how, when and where consumers are shopping online. Sophos is warning these shoppers to be mindful of the possibility of identity theft during Cyber Monday and offers steps to avoid falling victim.

Survey results

Are you doing any shopping online for the holidays this year?

Yes
73%
No
27%

Sophos online survey, 230 respondents, November 2007.

"Cybercriminals are becoming craftier and smarter in the ways they exploit consumers to steal their personal information," said Mike Haro, senior security analyst for Sophos. "This holiday season, consumers should be more prepared and aware of the risks, especially as these crimes have been reported quite heavily in the news. Having the right line of defense in place and knowing what signs to look out for will help online shoppers to avoid potential credit card fraud and identity theft."

While consumers are at risk, they may also unknowingly expose their companies' network to an attack. A recent study conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of CareerBuilder.com indicates that nearly one out of every three employees will shop online during work hours. This high volume presents the opportunity for cybercriminals to gain access to company networks through an employee's work computer. Sophos warns consumers and businesses alike to be mindful of the risks on Cyber Monday and to utilize proper security measures.

Sophos offers the following online shopping security recommendations:

Precautions for consumers

Precautions for online shopping sites

Disclaimer: Please bear in mind that this poll is not scientific and is provided for information purposes only. Sophos makes no guarantees about the accuracy of the results other than that they reflect the choices of the users who participated.