The annual Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales offer incredible opportunities, but they are also peak days for financial phishing attacks – and consumers are significantly safer on ‘Grey Saturday’, when the number of such attacks drops by up to a third.
Kaspersky Lab’s review found signs of Grey Saturday attack dips in both 2016 and 2015. In 2016 there was a decline of 33 percent in the number of attacks using popular online retail and payment brands (from around 770,000 to 510,000 detections), despite it being the second biggest shopping day in some countries, such as the U.S.
It represents a rare moment of respite from the cybercriminals in an ever busier holiday shopping season that now runs from October through December. Traditionally distributed by email, phishing attacks now also lure consumers through weblinks, banners, social media and more, persuading them to part with their personal financial data in the belief they are dealing with a reputable, known brand.
“The rise in people using online payments, banking and shopping means that financial phishing attacks are now consistently high all year round, but the holiday season makes it so much easier to hide in the noise. At this time of year, marketing and advertising levels go through the roof, and with consumers increasingly making their transactions on mobiles – probably while out and about and in a hurry – almost everyone is more exposed and has less time to think and check. On Grey Saturday the number of attacks drop significantly. Weekends generally see lower numbers of attacks and fewer people online – but on this big shopping day that’s an extra advantage. We expect this trend from 2016 to continue in 2017, so if you plan on shopping online these holidays, choose the day wisely,” said Nadezhda Demidova, Lead Web-Content Analyst, Kaspersky Lab.
Other findings of the report include:
- Following a decline in 2015, financial phishing abusing online payment systems, banks and retailers increased again in 2016.
- Financial phishing now accounts for half (49.77 per cent) of all phishing attacks, up from 34.33 per cent in 2015.
- Mobile-first consumers are likely to be a key driver behind the rise in financial phishing: the use of smartphones for online banking, payment and shopping has doubled in the last year according to the 2017 Kaspersky Cybersecurity Index.
- Financial phishers are exploiting the Black Friday name in their attacks, as well as consumer awareness of, and concerns about online security – disguising their attack messages as security alerts, implications that the user has been hacked, or adding reassuring-sounding security messages.
In order to stay protected while shopping online – on any day – Kaspersky Lab offers the following advice:
- Do not click on any links received from unknown sources or on any links that look suspicious.
- Do not use insecure public Wi-Fi networks to make online payments, as hotspots can easily be hacked in order to listen to user traffic and steal confidential information.
- Do not enter your credit card details on unfamiliar or suspicious sites and always double-check the webpage is genuine before entering any personal information (at least take a look at the URL). Fake websites may look just like the real ones.
- Only use sites which run with a secure connection – the address of the site should begin with HTTPS://.
- The more information is being asked for, the more cautious you should be: ask yourself if they really need all the information they demand.
- Remember that banks and payment companies will never ask you to enter all your credentials. If in doubt, call them.
- Install a security solution on your device with built-in technologies designed to prevent financial fraud. For example, Safe Money technology in Kaspersky Lab’s solutions creates a secure environment for financial transactions on all levels.
Kaspersky Lab’s holiday season financial phishing overview is based on information gathered by Kaspersky Lab’s heuristic anti-phishing component that activates every time a user tries to open a phishing link that has not yet been added to Kaspersky Lab’s database.
To assist users seeking for a reliable security solution, Kaspersky Lab is running a special offer. Anyone who purchases Kaspersky Internet Security or Kaspersky Total Security for 1, 3 or 5 devices, will get 50% discount for online purchases. The promotion will run from the 22nd – 30th of November. For more information, please visit: https://www.kaspersky.co.za/home-security#all
To learn more about the latest holiday season phishing trends and examples, please see the Beyond Black Friday Kaspersky Lab Threat Report on Securelist.
Data journalism takes top prize in revamped awards
The entries to the 2018 Vodacom Journalist of the Year Awards were extraordinarily varied and of an excellent standard, with new categories introduced which are based on content as opposed to platforms. This year, the judges decided that two entries were equally worthy of the coveted Vodacom Journalist of the Year Award.
The first co-winning entry, in the new Data Journalism category, is a set of stories by Alastair Otter and Laura Grant of Media Hack which showed how Data Journalism is shaping the future. The second co-winning entrant is Bongani Fuzile of the Daily Dispatch for his articles in the investigative category on how migrant workers were being ripped off by pension deductions (full citations below).
Convenor of the judging panel Ryland Fisher says: “This year we modernised the 12 categories that journalists could enter their work in and the change was embraced by entrants. In a turbulent time for media, the 2018 entries once again proved that there are excellent South African journalists delivering praiseworthy work, and we commend them for finding new and innovative ways to cover the news.”
Takalani Netshitenzhe, Chief Officer for Corporate Affairs at the Vodacom Group, says: “Vodacom is proud of its 17-year association with these prestigious awards, which make an important contribution to our society through the recognition of journalistic excellence. I’d like to congratulate all of tonight’s winners and, as always, I’d like to pay tribute to our hardworking judges. Ryland Fisher, Mathatha Tsedu, Arthur Goldstuck, Collin Nxumalo, Elna Rossouw, Patricia McCracken, Megan Rusi, Mary Papayya, Albe Grobbelaar and Obed Zilwa: thank you for making these awards a continued success.”
Veteran journalist and media stalwart Ms Amina Frense is the winner of the 2018 Vodacom Journalist of the Year Lifetime Achiever Award. She has spent decades in mainstream media both locally and internationally. She is a former Managing Editor: News and Current Affairs at the SA Broadcasting Corporation. She has worked in many countries abroad as a producer and a foreign correspondent, has written two books and is also a founding member of SANEF where she still serves as a council member (full citation below).
The overall winners share the R100 000 main prize. National winners in the various categories are as follows, with each winner taking home R10 000:
The entries in this category were of an exceptionally high standard. One entrant stood out and became the unanimous winner. This journalist showed an exceptional skill for story-telling and for finding unexpected angles and unknown facts. For his stories about Musangwe’s fight for recognition, Age cheating in SA football, and Hansie Cronje revisited, the winner is Ronald Masinda, and the team of Gift Kganyago, Nceba Ntlanganiso and Charles Lombard from eSAT TV.
Cons exploit Telegram ICO
Kaspersky Lab researchers have uncovered dozens of highly convincing fake websites claiming to be investment sites for an initial coin offering (ICO) by the Telegram messaging service. Many of these websites appear to belong to the same group. In one case alone, tens of thousands of US dollars’ worth of cryptocurrency were stolen from victims believing they were investing in ‘Grams’, Telegram’s rumoured new currency. Telegram has not officially confirmed an ICO and has warned people about fraudulent investor sites.
In late 2017, stories started to circulate that the Telegram messaging service was launching an initial coin offering (ICO) to finance a blockchain platform based on its TON (Telegram Open Network) technology. Unverified technical documentation was posted online, but there appears to have been no confirmation from Telegram itself. The resulting confusion seems to have allowed fraudsters to capitalise on investor interest by creating fake sites and stealing vast sums of money.
Kaspersky Lab researchers have discovered dozens of such sites, possibly belonging to the same group, claiming to sell tokens for ‘Grams’ and inviting investors to pay with cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Ethereum, lice litecoin, dash and Bitcoin dash. A record of transactions on one site revealed that the scammers were able to steal at least $35,000 US dollars’ worth of Ethereum from investors.
The researchers found that some of the websites were so convincing that even after Telegram and others began to issue warnings, they were still able to recruit potential investors. Most use a secure connection, require registration and generate a unique online wallet for each new victim, making it harder to track the money.
Judging by the content of the fake websites, it appears they may have common ownership. For example, several have the exactly the same ‘Our Team’ section.
“ICOs are a fairly risky investment and many people don’t yet fully understand how they work, so it is not surprising that high quality fake websites, with seemingly reassuring features such as a secure connection and registration are successful at luring people in. People wishing to invest in an ICO would do well to check with the company behind it and make sure they know exactly who they are giving their money to, or they may never see it again,” said Nadezhda Demidova, Lead Web-Content Analyst, Kaspersky Lab.
Kaspersky Lab offers the following advice for users considering investing in an ICO:
- Check for warning signs: for example, some of the fake Telegram ICO websites had the same wrong image next to the name of Telegram’s Chief Product Officer.
- Do your homework: always check with the brand’s official site to verify the legitimacy of the investment site and, if necessary contact the company’s ICO teams before investing any money or currency.
- Use reliable security solutions such as Kaspersky Internet Security and Kaspersky Internet Security for Android, which will warn you if you try to visit fake internet pages.