Online shopping during Eid in the Middle East has become increasingly popular in recent years, but unfortunately, it has also become a prime target for cybercriminals looking to carry out phishing scams and other types of cyber attacks. According to recent reports, Saudi Arabia recorded a significant jump in the number of detections in Q2 2022, registering 168% increase in phishing scams.
A study by Qrator Labs has found that the upward trend in online shopping in the UAE has led to a surge in cybercrime, with an average increase of 45% observed. This, to according industry analysts, could potentially lead to a rise in cyberattacks and potential malicious activity during the Ramadan period, and it is likely that this trend will continue during Eid shopping as well.
Among the organizations in the UAE that experienced attempted email-based phishing attacks, 8 in 10 (86%) experienced at least one successful attack, and nearly half (44%) reported direct financial losses as a result. To mitigate these risks, Etisalat is the latest company to offer personal cybercrime insurance to safeguard against online banking fraud, credit card scams, loss of internet purchases, cyber extortion, and identity theft in the UAE.
For consumers, guarantees that their payment data would be protected was second (64% of consumers), while the price of goods or services was the least important consideration (17%) for choosing payment options. Around 84% of consumers said the security of the payment facility offered on a merchant website was the top reason they would choose to pay online with their cards rather than cash on delivery (COD), according to a 2022 survey conducted jointly by the Department of Economy and Tourism (DET) in Dubai and Visa.
The survey also found that despite the growing awareness of cyber threats, a third of those surveyed in the UAE still struggle to recognize fraud or scams. To stay safe while shopping online during Eid, consumers should remain vigilant and take necessary precautions, such as using secure payment methods, avoiding suspicious emails and links, and keeping their devices and software up to date.
To stay safe while shopping online during Eid, here are some steps you can take to protect yourself from phishing scams and other cyber threats:
- Use secure payment methods: Payment methods like credit cards or digital wallets use online security features including fraud monitoring, encryption etc. that help keep your accounts and personal information safe; as compared to wire transfers or other untraceable payment methods that are favored by cybercriminals.
- Avoid suspicious emails and links: Be wary of emails or messages that ask you to click on links or provide personal information, especially if they are unexpected or from unknown sources.
- Keep your devices and software up to date: Regularly update your devices with the latest security patches and software updates, as they often include important security fixes.
- Use two-factor authentication: Use this tactic as an added layer of protection across all your online accounts as part of your login process.
- Be cautious of public Wi-Fi: Free is not always safe, especially when shopping online. Public wi-fi is often unsecured and can be easily hacked by cybercriminals.
As the trend of online shopping during Eid continues to rise, it is crucial to stay aware of the potential cyber threats that come with it. The recent surge in phishing scams and cyber attacks in the Middle East is a clear warning sign that cybercriminals are actively targeting consumers during this time. By being proactive and vigilant, we can protect ourselves and our personal information from falling into the hands of cybercriminals. So, let’s take action and stay safe while shopping online this Eid.