UK security experts have warned online shoppers to be aware of scams ahead of Mothering Sunday this weekend.
The National Cyber Security Center (NCSC), an offshoot of spy agency GCHQ, issued the notice yesterday, claiming that the mass shift to e-commerce during the pandemic has exposed more consumers to fraud.
It gave no specific details of current campaigns to look out for, although cyber-criminals will usually tailor their efforts according to current events.
Unsolicited emails and social media messages in the week before Mother’s Day may contain links designed to deploy malware or harvest credentials and personal information.
There’s also an increased risk of sites luring users to enter their card details with massive discounts on non-existent flowers, chocolates and other popular items.
“Cyber-criminals are opportunistic and always ready to exploit peak online shopping moments, and unfortunately, family occasions like Mother’s Day are no different,” warned NCSC deputy director for economy and society, Sarah Lyons.
“We want everyone to shop with confidence and peace of mind this Mother’s Day. The Cyber Aware website has advice on the six key behaviors that can be easily followed to protect yourself.”
These include: using strong, unique passwords and saving them to the browser, switching two-factor authentication on where possible, updating all devices and apps regularly and backing-up data.
Mothering Sunday is celebrated in the UK and Ireland on a different date to the US.
In related news, Europol yesterday announced the seizure of €16m worth of fake toys during the recent festive period, and the arrest of 11 individuals.
The operation to clamp down on counterfeit products resulted in nearly 5000 inspections, over 44,000 samples tested in labs and the opening of 125 judicial cases across the region.
Toy cars, board games and dolls from popular children’s TV shows were among the most seized items.
Although many were almost exact copies of the real thing, they were not subject to strict safety tests and did not feature warning labels. Europol argued that thousands of these items could be a choking hazard, contained toxic chemicals and/or exceeded safe decibel limits for children’s ears.
Such counterfeits are often made of popular items that are likely to sell-out in legitimate retail stores, driving parents online to hunt them down for their children.