WACO, Texas (KWTX) From now until well into the new year online shoppers will type, search, and click their way into a buying frenzy, but retail therapy comes at a price if you are not careful.
(Photo by Ke'Sha Lopez)
"So it is an exciting day and as a cybersecurity professional I do the same thing. I shop on Amazon. I shop on Walmart. I shop on Sam's but one thing I never do is click on something in an email that was sent to me by Walmart or Amazon or anything like that. A lot of times those things can be weaponized,” said Richard Martin with Sentinel Cyber Intelligence in Waco.
He warns that while you are looking for deals, hackers are searching for easy prey.
He said recently a ransomware program dubbed Emotet has been attacking vulnerable devices.
"An Emotet is designed to gather banking credentials and in one case that we worked in Texarkana, it actually grabbed Amazon credentials and sent a laptop to Florida."
He explained there are lots of mistakes people make that leave them exposed to cyber-attacks.
To surf safely, experts advise, that you don't click on links in emails unless you trust the source and don't click on ads on websites you visit.
They could be compromised.
Use two-factor authentication when creating accounts.
It verifies the user is who they say they are.
For example, if you sign up for an account with an online store, it will send you an email with a code that you must input to verify you are the person you say you are.
Don't use public Wi-Fi, he says.
Hackers can open ports that allow them to see your movements online, even capture your information.
Make sure you are using 15-character pass phrases instead of passwords.
The goal is to make hacking your account as difficult as possible.
"Once your banking credentials are stolen from a banking Trojan like Emotet, they’re stolen and there is nothing that we can do what you'll have to do is go through the hell of reclaiming your identity."
Earlier this year, the city of Atlanta, Ga., was hacked.
People couldn't pay their traffic tickets or water bills online.
They couldn't report infrastructure problems in their neighborhoods.
Officials said they're spending $2.7 million and counting to repair the damage.
The Colorado Department of Transportation estimated it has spent $1.5 million to get computers systems online again after ransomware attacks in February and March.
School districts have been hacked.
But on a much smaller scale, individuals are being swindled out of thousands of dollars.
Experts said people who believe it will not happen to them should stop and think.
"They will absolutely take your money and run up credit under Amazon account their vicious people."