Most dangerous Christmas yet for data loss

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Fraudsters get ready for silly season.

Research has showed that Christmas 2009 shoppers are facing the largest threat ever.

UK vendor SentryBay predicted that more shoppers will be looking for online bargains than ever before and more personal information will be inputted.

It also predicted that by purchasing late, people will be in a hurry and overlook basic security measures and as attacks become more sophisticated even the more experienced online users will be fooled.

Marcus Whittington, COO of SentryBay, said: “Online shopping is now as much of a Christmas ritual as last minute dashes to the supermarket. No one wants to lose the convenience, value and great deals to be had on the web. But as more people put more information online, the threat of identity theft grows.

“The average UK consumer spends seven hours a week online and by 2020 IMRG expects 90 per cent of all transactions here will be either over the net or influenced by it. On the path to this point, this year is shaping up as the most risky since buying on the web kicked off in the early noughties.”

Whittington said that December 2008 saw just over 8,000 phishing attacks and with 13 per cent of phishing attacks capturing credit card details, it results in just over 1,000 victims.

“The 37 per cent Christmas increase means that the number of victims touches 1,500. And that is just credit cards. Going by previous figures, almost 2,500 bank accounts details will be captured and nearly a thousand full identities,” said Whittington.

Meanwhile, following news that 1,219 websites that claimed to sell cut-price designer goods were shut down in the biggest police operation of its kind in the UK, CPP urged cardholders to remain vigilant and exercise caution whenever they make purchases online.

Sarah Blaney, CPP card fraud expert, said: “We welcome the police's swift response in closing down these websites, which pose a danger to cardholders.

“Nevertheless, we urge all cardholders to remain on guard whenever they make a purchase online. Whilst these websites have been shut down, we can be assured that imitation sites will quickly step in to take their place, so it's vital that we take the necessary steps to protect our cards and identities whenever we go online.”

BBC News reported that the 1,219 sites, which advertised brands including Ugg boots, Tiffany jewellery and Links of London, saw customers either receive nothing, counterfeit goods or have their credit card details stolen.

Blaney said: “Web fraudsters are getting increasingly sophisticated. We are advising people to only use trusted online retail sites, make sure they log out of sites when finished and to avoid storing credit or debit card details online. Shoppers need to remember that these types of sites offering deals which seem too good to be true, invariably are.”

Whittington concludes: “To negate risks, shoppers need to have confidence not only in the sites they are visiting but also the devices they are using to go online. A real-time approach which negates the security risk of information entered into shopping sites, or even just sites such as Google where so many people begin looking, is critical to make sure people do not pass on personal information.

“Likewise, proactive solutions that go beyond just protecting users from confirmed spyware or phishing sites - and actively protect information when it is being entered, represent a better way to secure your Christmas spend online.”

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