Shoppers buying online this festive season have been warned to stay vigilant for cybercrime, particularly when making purchases on their mobile devices.

According to Dell EMC and RSA, both Dell Technologies businesses, more than 60 percent of transactions confirmed as fraudulent in 2016 originated from a mobile device. In 2017 this could increase dramatically as RSA predicts that mobile transactions generally will outpace web transactions for the first time.

Gerry Murray, Country Manager at Dell EMC Ireland, said: “Many people only associate malware and viruses with desktop PCs and laptops, but the truth is that as smartphone and tablet usage has increased, cybercriminals have created new ways of breaking into them and stealing personal details, including financial information.

“As we rely more on our smartphones, and we conduct more of our daily business through them, including paying bills and buying products, it’s likely that they will become the default attack point.”

RSA revealed that the top three targets of fraud in 2016 were online money transfer and bill pay services; hospitality businesses and airlines; and electronics retailers.

While new threats like ransomware and botnets cast a menacing shadow, phishing is still a serious threat. Phishing is a type of online fraud that dupes people and businesses into handing over their personal and financial details using malware and social engineering, costing global organisations over €8.5 billion each year.

RSA counted more phishing attacks in Q2 2016 alone than all of 2015 combined. 201,082 phishing attacks were launched in Q3, a 54 percent year-on-year rise; this number is predicted to rise further in Q4 as a result of increased online shopping over Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas.

Mr Murray said: “By using common sense and obeying basic security rules, online shopping is a safe and convenient experience. However, Christmas and New Year are perfect moments for opportunistic cybercriminals looking to take advantage of our increased online spend, particularly in sales.

“When it comes to buying gifts online, shop with trusted retailers and recognisable brands. If you’re suspicious, research on social media and online discussion forums to see if other shoppers have your concerns. Avoid downloading apps and clicking on unsolicited links that tout deals and prices that seem too good to be true—they probably are.

“At the online checkout, make sure your web address bar has a lock or shield icon; this means your connection is safe and can’t be intercepted by a third party. If you don’t see it, don’t buy.

“Over the Christmas period, keep a log of every payment you make online and compare it with your bank statement. If you think your account has been compromised, contact your bank immediately.”

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