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More risk of scams in year-end online sales

The proliferation of year-end sale campaigns on the Internet will increase data security risks to consumers exponentially, according to security experts.

While online-savvy buyers are eager to get discounted goods at the traditional yearend sales, cyber criminals are also upping their game to take advantage of consumers’ desire for bargains.

SysArmy Sdn Bhd CTO Alan Yau said cyber criminals may send promotional links and e-coupons via emails to entice consumers.

“Hackers send emails that contain e-coupons and discount links to get people to click, then direct them to fake websites that may look identical to the merchants or bank websites.

“Subsequently, they can steal credit card information, bank details, usernames and passwords, etc from the victims,” he said.

Yau said those critical data can be misused for nefarious purposes in the future by the hackers.

Among the year-end sales and promotions that had excited shoppers include Alibaba Group Holding Ltd’s Singles Day, also referred to by many as Double 11, which just took place on Saturday.

Double 11 is also touted as the world’s single largest e-commerce festival which saw billions of sales generated from hundreds of millions of consumers worldwide.

Locally available e-commerce platforms that also hopped on the bandwagon include Lazada, Zalora, Lelong, Shopee and Groupon, with jaw-dropping offers via deals and vouchers. Some of the platforms had also extended thei r campaign beyond Nov 11.

LGMS Services Sdn Bhd CEO Fong Choong Fook said hackers have the capabilities to set up fake WiFi hotspots for users to get into their network trap.

“Attackers can set up a ‘fake’ public hotspot from their laptop in Starbucks, for example, and users who are connected and made online purchases risk having their financial information stolen,” he said.

He said the hackers are emboldened to even make calls to dupe consumers into giving more personal information through a so-called verification process during such phone consultation, given they have already acquired some crucial information to begin with from the recent data breach, for instance.

Fong said in this regard, private and home WiFis are much safer to make any online payments.

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