Mimecast’s Quarterly Threat Report Calls Attention to Mobile Payments Risks

November 21, 2019         By: Steven Anderson

With Black Friday just over a week away, and the massive rush of Christmas shopping that will follow behind it, it’s not surprising that people are looking twice at their mobile payments systems and wondering just how they could be taken advantage of this year. A new report sent our way from Mimecast suggests there are plenty of threats facing mobile payments users this year, and everyone else besides.

First off, businesses came under increasing fire in the July-September quarter, with 19 significant campaigns targeting a range of different sectors. Worse, these attacks were found to be highly sophisticated in nature, and were extremely likely to have monetary gain as their primary purpose. This means that cybercriminals are getting more active and pursuing direct monetary payoff, which makes retail operations—especially during periods of higher shopping like Black Friday and the holidays—more potentially open to attack.

Second, the study found that cybercriminals were actually prone to taking two periods “off”, slowing their attacks on weekends and during the summer. Black Friday and the holiday shopping period doesn’t involve summer at all and only occasionally involves weekends, so increased activity may occur in this time frame.

Third, attacks tended to focus on spam and bulk email to distribute malware as well as impersonation attacks. Since these are especially common to retail shoppers, it should serve as extra reason for vigilance.

In the end, that’s about all you can say here. Scott Adams’ popular principles involving weasels chasing money are very much in play here, and with a lot more money and traffic flooding the system, the chances of attack were only likely to increase anyway. Knowing what we know about the upcoming attack cycle, and what we’ve already seen, makes it clear we’re going to have to watch our collective back ever more closely.

However, the good news here is that we’re already pretty vigilant. Banks, retailers, and regular consumers are already keeping a weather eye on things. So with a little extra push, we may well make this holiday shopping season even safer, despite a higher possibility of attack.