Hackers preying on shopaholics in festive season

Sep 27, 2011, 07:00 IST | Sheetal Sukhija

Cyber crime dept sees surge in phishing cases since the onset of the festive season; statistics show around 85 per cent shoppers prefer e-shopping than trudging to malls

Cyber crime dept sees surge in phishing cases since the onset of the festive season; statistics show around 85 per cent shoppers prefer e-shopping than trudging to malls

Online shopping portals are doing brisk business this festive season, as e-shopping has apparently caught on.

Around 85 per cent people prefer buying stuff while sitting in the comfort of their homes rather than jostling for space in crowded markets and malls.

As shopaholics spend more time on e-shopping portals this
festive season, hackers have also become hyperactive

The flip side to the just-a-click-away shopping option however, is falling prey to cyber frauds who keep an eye on  each and every transaction you make. They then strike and clean out your accounts.

The cyber crime police have recorded an upsurge in the number of phishing and hacking cases happening on these online shopping portals offering merchandise at alluring prices.

A recent survey conducted by the FBI reveals that 40 per cent customers leak out their confidential details such as bank account and credit card details at these online shopping websites, which hackers frequently scan.

On the rise
"We are receiving at least 15 complaints of customers being cheated on online shopping portals every week.
Cracking such cases becomes difficult as there are certain hackers who operate from various parts of the world.

However, we have issued awareness measures to ensure this festive season does not turn into a bad time for people," said an official from the cyber crime department.

Aware of the cyber fraud, several websites offering online shopping are on a high alert.

"In the last year, the total number of users infected with regard to online cyber crime has tripled in comparison to usual crime.

Users often do not perceive the threat and since hackers have smooth means of operation, a lay user would end up becoming an easy and vulnerable target," said Govind Rammurthy, MD & CEO, eScan.

Further, online security portals reveal that hackers are operating by planting a keylogger on systems that listen in, surreptitiously, waiting for users to use their credit card or enter their banking password so that they can steal money.

"Keylogger is an application that in implanted on one's desktop. Sometimes hackers work individually and at other times, they work as a BOT (a network of hackers).

Online shopping websites have virtual keyboards, but these hackers take a screen shot of the keys you enter and hack into your accounts," said Rammurthy.

Aware of losing their customers' trust, many portals have started warning users against phishing and shopaholics have no option but to oblige.

"I buy books, clothes, shoes and even jewellery online since it is easier. But I've heard of people getting cheated.
So this time I am following the security instructions given on websites," said Radhika Govind, a shopper.

The cyber crime department has also warned against fake websites that offer huge discounts. "Recently there was a clone website of HP, offering goods at half-price.
Over 1,000 people registered on the site and paid their fee, but the next day, the site shut down. All the people who had paid huge sum didn't know what to do.
It is best to place your trust only in known brands or names in the online shopping segment," said Rammurthy.

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