How Prepared are you for a Cyber-attack This Christmas?


    How Prepared are you for a Cyber-attack This Christmas?

    With Black Friday and Cyber Monday over, more persons are now on the hunt for the best Christmas deals. And with the increase in digitisation, accelerated by the pandemic, many shoppers are choosing to beat holiday crowds by purchasing gifts online. But as online sales boom, experts are warning that so will cyber-attacks.

    The Jamaica Productivity Centre reported earlier this year that e-commerce and online shopping continue to flourish among Jamaican consumers.

    According to, e-commerce in Jamaica is on track to exceed annual revenues of US$1 billion by 2025, with 1.2 million Jamaicans engaging in online transactions.

    With so many Jamaicans shopping online, consumers can open themselves to phishing attacks, spam email, malicious websites, viruses, and other cyber-attacks fighting to enter their devices, with the aim to steal their money and/or information.

    In fact, the Jamaica Cyber Incident Response Team is reporting an explosion in cyber-attacks in the last two years. Between October 2021 and October this year, 86 cyber-attacks were reported to JaCIRT across the 10 categories it monitors. This is twice the 42 reported cases between October 2020 and October 2021.

    The government agency further pointed out this figure is just the tip of the iceberg, as cybercrimes in Jamaica are grossly under reported.

    Consumers are reminded that cyber criminals will most likely attempt to impersonate retailers, couriers, and payment services.

    It’s common for a cybercriminal to use emails to gain access to your financial or personal information. Criminals will send a phishing email, within which they will copy a retailer’s sale or discount email and include a link to a false portal/website, requesting that you enter your information.

    The criminals are relying on your unquestioning trust or ignorance! Sometimes you can spot these phishing emails by the strange email address, spelling errors, or incorrect grammar contained. Additionally, a reputable organisation will never request your personal or financial information by email.

    You may also be sent fake notifications, referring to a payment failure, tracking number, supposed refund, fake voucher or coupons.

    What could happen if you click on a phishing link or download an attachment? Well, you may install malware, such as a virus, spyware, or ransomware on your device. This is typically done without you realising it’s happening. Once installed, it may:

    • Harvest your personal and financial information
    • Send phishing emails to the contacts in your address list
    • Provide remote access to your device

    In the unfortunate event of clicking on a phishing link or downloading an attachment, you should consider taking the following actions:

    1. Disconnect from the internet- Switch off the wi-fi, mobile data, unplug the ethernet cable, etc. This will reduce the risk of malware sending phishing emails and enabling remote access to your device.
    2. Backup your data-The malware may attempt to either encrypt your data via ransomware or delete it.
    3. Scan your device for malware– Anti-malware software can protect you from malicious software. It’s always a good idea to run a scan on a regular basis.
    4. Change your Credentials-As mentioned, your personal and financial information may be harvested, including your website usernames and passwords. So, you may want to change your credentials to help ensure that your online accounts haven’t been compromised. Create a strong password by using a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.
    5. Continue with caution-Delete emails from unrecognised senders. However, even if you receive an email from a known organisation/brand, bear in mind that you shouldn’t be asked to share any personal or financial information through email or text message. If you are asked for this, hit the “delete” button. If the message is important, the sender will contact you by telephone.

    To reduce your risk to cybercrime, especially during the busy Christmas season, the following additional actions are important for you to follow.

    1. Use retailers with secured websites-Secure websites will display a closed padlock in the status bar, and the URL will begin with ‘HTTPS’, indicating that the webpage uses the SSL or TLS protocol.
    2. Keep your device’s software updated- Software updates are important as criminals will always try to exploit any software bugs which may exist. Software updates prevent such exploits.
    3. Check bank statements regularly- Checking your statement on a fortnightly or monthly basis allows you to detect any unusual charges. If you see any, report it to your bank.

    Christmas is a season to be jolly, but also a season to be aware of cybercrimes! Your exposure to cyber-attacks is heightened, and you must be mindful to protect yourself and your devices while shopping.


    Watch: Protecting Your Mobile Phone from Hackers

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