During what are expected to be record-breaking shopping sprees on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, cyber security experts are warning that the shopping frenzy could provide the perfect cover for cybercriminals.
Cyber security experts at Fujitsu warned Friday –the U.S. nationwide day of big sales that follows the Thanksgiving holiday – that cybercriminals could exploit the increased volumes of transactions and internet traffic will provide perfect opportunities for hackers to go un-noticed.
"Black Friday and Cyber Monday pose heightened security risks to retailers by providing an opportunity for hackers to take advantage during the Christmas shopping rush," Rob Lay, Solutions Architect for Enterprise and Cyber Security, U.K. and Ireland for Fujitsu, said in a note Friday.
He said that businesses should ensure that their monitoring systems "are well tuned and on slightly higher alert so that incidents can be responded to quickly and efficiently should they happen."
Some 95.5 million Americans are expected to take advantage of steep discounts being offered on Friday, according to data from the National Retail Federation's "Thanksgiving Weekend Expectations survey" and the shopping phenomenon has crossed the Atlantic to Europe as well. According to Kantar Retail figures, 83 percent of British and 40 percent of French shoppers are familiar with the Black Friday "holiday" compared to 99 percent of U.S. shoppers.
The Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday was first day of the "holiday scam season", according to EJ Hilbert, managing director at Kroll and a former FBI Agent.
"The bad guys know that everybody's going to be shopping online and this is when they really up their game and the attacks and the attempt to steal money," he said. "For financially motivated hackers that you're finding a great deal more of, this is their big time and you're going to see a dramatic uptick in this (type of retail cybercrime)."
He suggested that consumers type in the retail sites they want to visit, rather than clicking on links to ensure they are visiting legitimate retail sites.
Arjun Kharpal contributed reporting to this story.