Cybergangs have identified mobile device-enabled services as a source of valuable personal data such as logons to accounts, says Alisdair Faulkner, ThreatMetrix chief products officer.(Photo: Seth Wenig, AP)
SEATTLE -- Bad guys are poised to plunder online holiday shoppers.
Black Friday, Cyber Monday and throughout the 2012 holiday shopping
blitz, cybergangs are expected to unleash a variety of old and new
Internet-based scams to steal identities and hijack online accounts.
"This is prime time for cybercriminals," says Brendan Ziolo, vice president at security firm Kindsight.
MORE: Americans expected to spend $1.5 Billion on Cyber Monday
incentive: Some 41% of consumers plan to use their PCs, tablets and
smartphones to shop online, up from 37% last year, according to
That means millions of people will be using
computers at home and work to shop for gifts. What's more, roughly half
of them use Web browsers lacking the latest security patches, making
them prime targets for computer infections that saturate the Web.
of all major browsers are using outdated software containing known
vulnerabilities," says Wolfgang Kandek, chief technical officer at patch
management firm Qualys.
Qualys recently analyzed more than 1
million Internet-connected Microsoft Windows PCs and Macs. It found 56%
of users of Microsoft's Internet Explorer surfed the Internet using an
older version of the popular Web browser carrying widely known security
flaws. Hackers are expert at tapping into such flaws to seed infections.
49.2% of users of Mozilla's Firefox, 47.5% of Google's Chrome and 37.4%
of Apple's Safari also used browser versions lacking the latest
security updates. Using an outdated browser - and clicking on a Web page
booby-trapped with a hidden virus - can turn control of your computer
over to an intruder.