‘Malicious’ program targets mobile shoppers this holiday season, says cybersecurity firm

November 24, 2023 - 9:33 AM
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Image by Preis_King via Pixabay

Cybercriminals are increasingly targeting local shoppers who use mobile phones for their purchases, according to a leading cybersecurity firm.

In a recent report, Kaspersky warned local shoppers that mobile banking Trojans are among the most prevalent and concerning cybersecurity threats this holiday season.

RELATED: PNP-ACG warns public about fake crypto app targeting Christmas bonus recipients

A Trojan or a Trojan horse is a downloaded program that might appear harmless but is malicious in nature to the device it infects.

“Typically, the Trojan horse is hidden in an innocent-looking email attachment or free download,” Tech Target explained.

“When the user clicks on the email attachment or downloads the free program, the malware hidden inside is transferred to the user’s computing device. Once inside, the malicious code can execute whatever task the attacker designed it to carry out,” it also stated.

A mobile Trojan horse, meanwhile, is used “to hunt for data related to online banking and e-payment systems.”

Kaspersky said that it detected 196,476 mobile banking Trojan installers in the world last year. This is twice as much as the same period of comparison in 2021.

Moreover, this is also the highest recorded figure in the past six years.

According to the cybersecurity firm, the “usual modus operandi” of scammers to deceive customers into stealing their personal data and payment details include:

  • Offering products at suspiciously low prices
  • Insistence on immediate payment
  • No contact information for product returns

Kaspersky further noted that the target websites and accounts of these mobile Trojans are:

  • Clothing
  • Jewelry
  • Toys
  • Electronic stores
  • Movie theaters
  • Other large online marketplaces

Amid the gift-giving season, Kaspersky advised Filipinos against the following habits to prevent falling for mobile banking Trojans and other scams.

  1. Using open Wi-Fi without passwords
  2. Choosing simple and easily accessible passwords for mobile devices and accounts
  3. Clicking links in emails, especially the suspicious ones
  4. The absence of any anti-virus protection
  5. Linking bank accounts cards to online shopping accounts
  6. Paying with a debit card
  7. Using bank cards for online shopping instead of using a separate one
  8. Monitoring transaction or payment history

Yeo Siang Tiong, General Manager for Southeast Asia at Kaspersky, said that the holiday season is busy for both consumers and cybercriminals, thus the need to ramp up financial protection.

“It’s the best time of year and also the busiest for shoppers and cybercriminals alike. More shoppers mean more targets for cybercriminals. It’s not always easy to spot a scam, especially if you are a shopper in a hurry. But we cannot ever let our guard down,” the executive said.