Business IQ

Steer clear of net nasties this christmas

Adam Turner
Technology Journalist

Adam Turner is a Sydney Morning Herald senior technology columnist who has been writing about the challenges facing Australian business for more than a decade

Adam Turner
Technology Journalist

Adam Turner is a Sydney Morning Herald senior technology columnist who has been writing about the challenges facing Australian business for more than a decade

Think twice before opening that digital Christmas card or clicking on that festive looking link, internet security experts and consumer authorities warn.

That animated Santa Claus e-card or email from the courier asking you to collect a parcel may look innocent enough, but it could have the potential to ruin your Christmas.

Daniel Kadane product specialist for security software maker Kaspersky Lab, explained that hackers take advantage of the holiday season to catch consumers unaware and plant malicious software on their computers.

“Cyber criminals as a whole tend to target their attacks depending on the time of the year. Heading up to the Christmas period one thing they tend to focus on is either phishing or spam attacks around online shopping. We see a huge spike around this time of year,” Daniel explained.

He says the aim is to lure unsuspecting consumers to websites capable of infecting their computers with malware designed to compromise their private data. These so-called ‘drive-by’ attacks often go undetected by victims leaving them vulnerable to divulging internet banking details.

Christmas criminal Christmas present

Held ransom by hackers

During the Christmas holiday season, the fraudulent spam emails frequently exploit the brands of trusted online shopping sites and courier services.

Ty Miller, founder of computer security consultancy Threat Intelligence said one of the most worrying developments was the rise of so-called ‘ransomware’ – malware that effectively locks the victim’s computer data in a virtual vault that can’t be opened unless the victim pays a fee.

“Those emails tend to be distributed seasonally so coming up to Christmas you’re probably going to see emails from [a courier] saying that they have a package waiting and to click a link to get details,” says Ty.

There is also another prevalent form of malware that is capable of intercepting internet banking sessions that collects login credentials and credit card information.

“It’ll actually re-write your internet banking page so that it will collect your username and password, and sometimes it may inject new fields to collect your credit card number,” he warned.

More than just emails

However, the potential to come to digital grief over Christmas didn’t stop at emails. Animated e-cards and even free mobile phone games could also comprise consumers, Ty warned.

Consumers should pay close attention to the party sending the email containing the link and “make sure it’s coming from a trusted party and even check that the wording looks like it’s coming from the person who purportedly sent it,” he explained.

In recent years the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) received hundreds of complaints about scams that resulted in financial losses reaching well into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

 

Looking or more ways to protect your digital presence?

Read about the importance of cyber security.

Find Out More

New report reveals small businesses lagging behind customers in tech
Trends
New report reveals small businesses lagging behind customers in tech

According to the 2018 Telstra Small Business Intelligence Report, customers increasingly use technology to find products and research businesses. Yet many small businesses are ...

5 simple ways to earn your customers' loyalty online
Tech Solutions
Tech Solutions
5 simple ways to earn your customers' loyalty online

Do you know what experience your customers want online to keep them loyal? Keep them coming back with these 5 simple, effective strategies. Today’s customers have a lot of choi...

Woman swiping card
Customer Experience
Customer Experience
5 easy secrets to customer loyalty

When small businesses want to boost customer loyalty, they often focus on dis-counts and special offers. However, there are many more ways you can make customers feel all that ...

Man sitting down using tablet
Customer Experience
Customer Experience
Tech: the new customer charmer

While many businesses look at technology as a way to make them more productive, others see it as an opportunity to delight customers. Adding a little tech to your business coul...