ThreatMetrix Cites Cybersecurity Strategies to Avoid Getting Stung by Cupid’s Arrow

Posted February 4, 2015


ThreatMetrix Offers Strategies to Protect Against Online Dating Fraud and E-Commerce Cons

Last year Valentine’s Day was huge with consumer spending topping out at $17.3 billion. This year will be even bigger with National Retail Federation figures projecting V-Day spending to reach a whopping $18.9 billion. And, a big chunk of that will be spent online.

But, did you know?

Online shoppers will spend an average of 40 percent more than offline shoppers leading up to Valentine’s Day. One group who knows this are the cybercriminals targeting shoppers and e-commerce sites.

Andreas Baumhof, ThreatMetrix’s chief technology officer, observes

“Online shopping risks surrounding Valentine’s Day should be considered in the same light as the holiday shopping season and any other significant spending day. Consumers must make sure to only purchase from legitimate websites, use unique passwords across websites and avoid storing credit card information online. To keep consumers protected online without added friction, retailers should leverage a trust intelligence network to differentiate between authentic and suspicious transactions. Following the influx of data breaches in 2014, there is a much higher risk of stolen identities in use, so retailers must watch out for red flags such as changes in IP addresses, shipping addresses or login credentials.”

ThreatMetrix tips to avoid being a victim of unrequited “love” this Valentine’s Day

  • Only open emails from trusted sources – Every major shopping holiday – Valentine’s Day included – cybercriminals take the opportunity to send phishing emails disguised as receipts from a recent purchase. Example: A consumer purchasing flowers may receive a fake email receipt. Once the email is opened, it downloads malware on the user’s computer. Every day of the year: Consumers must only open emails from trusted sources and websites — even if the subject line looks familiar.
  • Limit information shared on mobile dating apps – Mobile dating apps such as Hinge, Tinder and Zoosk are hugely popular. According to Venture Capital Journal, over the last few years, they’ve raised more than $70 million.

As with other apps, consumers have to exercise the same caution they use with other online activity, i.e. only download mobile apps from legitimate sources such as the Apple Store.

Location-based dating apps also pose risks to consumers. The more information that’s shared – including location, phone number and email address – the more information a cybercriminal (or crazy) has to piece together and steal an identity. To mitigate risks, consumers should limit the amount of information they share. That includes dating apps and social media. In short, that’s good advice everywhere online.

  • Beware of online dating – While one in 10 Americans have used an online dating site or mobile app, cybercriminals often create fake profiles to scam online customers or steal identities. One red flag to look out for includes a potential match claiming to be from Nigeria and requesting a wire transfer to cover travel costs. Another is sharing a link with a match. In some cases that link turns out to be malicious downloading malware for stealing personal information.

Baumhof notes fraudulent account registrations occur almost twice as often for online dating sites

“Just as mobile and online spending continuously increases year-over-year, so does online dating and as the industry gains popularity, cybercriminals determine new ways to compromise identities,” said Baumhof. “In the online dating world, users have no way to determine if their matches are authentic or fraudulent. Therefore, consumers must prioritize privacy and cybersecurity when looking for love online this Valentine’s Day and online dating websites must put preventative measures in place to stop cybercriminals in their tracks. In fact, data from the ThreatMetrix® Global Trust Intelligence Network (The Network) suggests that fraudulent account registrations occur almost twice as often for online dating sites compared to the average across industries.”

The Network: differentiating between authentic and criminal

The most effective way for online retailers and dating websites to differentiate between authentic and fraudulent activity is through information sharing, leveraging an anonymized global data repository, such as The Network, which analyzes over 850 million monthly transactions and protects more than 210 million active user accounts across 3,000 customers and 15,000 websites and mobile applications.



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