Attention Christmas shoppers: ransomware can be just 1 click away

(KXAN) – One wrong click is enough for a hacker to lock your files or account and demand money.

It happened to Austin’s Tiny Pies Instagram profile last year.

“We got an email from someone. And we accidentally clicked on it – it looks legit. We clicked on it. And then it was a hacker and they asked us to pay them ransom or they threatened to delete our account,” Amanda Wadsworth, co-founder of Tiny Pies, a small business in Austin, told KXAN News.

Ransomware attackers can also threaten to leak customer information on the dark web, and there’s a lot of that data out there right now.

“Companies manage about 10 times more data than they did five years ago,” said Bobbie Stemppfley, vice president and business unit security officer at Dell Technologies.

“That’s an astronomical amount of data,” she added.

She said there has been an increase in attempted attacks. In fact, she said companies like Dell have to defend them every day.

“It’s an environment where as you implement better protections, the threat actors work to find better ways to circumvent those protections,” Stempfley said.

She said Dell conducts constant training and simulations for employees throughout the year so they don’t fall for ransomware attacks like phishing — when hackers try to email you to trick you into clicking a fake link.

Attention Christmas shoppers

Security firm Tanium said attacks like this increase during the holiday shopping season as hackers try to cash in on the flood of people browsing the web.

“You may want to look for people impersonating your brand by stealing websites or sending emails,” said Melissa Bischoping, research director for endpoint security at Tanium.

It’s not just companies that store their data that need to be wary of attacks, Bischoping said. Buyers should also be aware of this.

“Be careful if you get an email that might advertise a Christmas sale. Check the official app or website that you trust and go through it instead of just clicking the link in the email,” she explained.

She said another common holiday scam is via botnets stealing inventory for some of the most sought-after products so they can sell it at a premium.

Bischoping said the technology made it easier for hackers to strike.

“It’s much easier than ever for threat actors to get into the market by purchasing these types of pre-packaged kits to distribute their malware or set up their own botnet. And that helps us see more activity,” she said.

Everything suits the busiest time of the year for your favorite stores.

“Security personnel can be scarce for people who are on vacation, so the security team is running around like elves at the North Pole trying to stay ahead of the increased demand as well as increased threat actors,” Bischoping said.

safety tips

  • If you receive an email about a shopping offer, instead of clicking any links, go directly to the company’s website.
  • This season, keep an eye out on your credit card for possible fraudulent charges.
  • Use different passwords for different websites you shop from so that if one company is hacked, your financial information is not misused at another company. Attention Christmas shoppers: ransomware can be just 1 click away

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