The current coronavirus pandemic has resulted in the closure of many pubs, restaurants, and brick-and-mortar retail stores. Many purchases that would previously have been made in person now take place online. In research commissioned by Visa, 89% of Britons have shopped online since the UK’s lockdown restrictions began, with 31% buying items online for the first time during this period. This increase in online shopping activity benefits criminal groups in that: smaller businesses newly reliant on online transactions provide attackers with a stream of inadequately-defended shopping sites to exploit, and buyers are far more likely to be driven to these compromised shops or to fake shops compared to before the pandemic.
Fake shops are another threat. Shoppers seeking bargains may unknowingly find themselves on a fake shop which claims to offers the products they want at a highly discounted price, but the victim will subsequently only receive counterfeit goods, no goods at all, or have the transaction aborted after entering credentials which is equivalent to a phishing attack.
Additionally, the Netcraft browser extension blocks shopping sites which use resources known to be part of skimming infrastructure – even if Netcraft has not blocked the shop. Whenever the extension detects a request being sent to a URL associated with skimming activity, it blocks the request and reports the compromised shopping site to us.
In this manner, Netcraft is able to receive a continuous stream of new compromised shopping sites automatically as the extension user community shops. The relationship between Netcraft and our community of browser extension users is symbiotic: as our users shop, we protect them from skimmers, and we use the information about any compromised shopping sites they find to automatically protect the rest of the community. Users can choose to opt-out of reporting these sites to Netcraft if they prefer.
The Netcraft Browser Extension is available to download for free on Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and Edge.
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