Open Phishing Season

For retailers and consumers, Cyber Monday marked the beginning of the online holiday shopping season. For cybercriminals, however, it marked the opening of their winter phishing season.

Here at MarkMonitor, we are currently seeing an uptick in cybercriminal activity targeting online retailers’ brands. Linked here is an example of a phish attack involving a well-known national retailer.

Clearly, brand-based phish and malware attacks such as this one, possess great potential to harm consumers. They also pose a great risk to customer trust and loyalty in your brand. As a result, the range of advice which you can give to your customers to promote safe online holiday shopping is extensive. Customers should:

  • confirm emails from retailers which request their action through links and attachments

  • confirm retailers who are highly ranked in search engine results, but are obscure or little known

  • be wary of website download files

  • ensure an https connection when entering financial credentials into a website

  • use temporary credit card numbers

  • use up-to-date anti-virus/malware software

  • check their financial statements regularly


These are all useful recommendations. Unfortunately, the consumer attitude toward security, and the preventive actions they are willing to take, depends on the convenience of those actions. Consumers choose to shop online, after all, because they value convenience over other considerations, including concern about using their credit cards online.

When brand-based attacks harm consumers, they damage retailers’ brands, customer relationships, and the trust which customers have in Internet channels. As a result, these attacks present a very real business problem.

We recommend that online retailers adopt a proactive security stance toward phish and malware. This approach should include adopting preventive measures against brand hijackings and attacks in the planning stages, quickly detecting attacks which are underway, immediately responding with layered security, and analyzing attack data to refine security strategy and tactics. By educating customers and putting in place a proactive security strategy against phish and malware attacks, retailers can ensure a more enjoyable holiday season for customers and retailers alike.
Tags: malware, Phishing

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Alison Simpson
With more than 13 years’ experience in the domain industry, Alison has managed all aspects of Corporate Domain Managem... More