The Evolution of Holiday Thievery

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Robert Siciliano

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Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, kicks off the holiday shopping season. Retailers advertise Black Friday bargains in order to lure you through their doors.

As far back as I can remember, police have been warning of thieves who target cars in parking lots, smashing windows to steal shopping bags left in plain sight.

Then, we’d be warned that as the Christmas lights went up, thieves would target the wrapped gifts underneath the tree. I thought, “It can’t get worse than this?”

Then Cyber Monday came along. It was born as a marketing opportunity that has taken on a life of its own over the past five or six years.

Online retailers promote their Cyber Monday offers throughout the fall, creating hype that whips shoppers into a frenzy. It’s become as essential to the retail community as Black Friday.

Now the warnings are different: no longer so focused on crime in the physical world, but instead, on threats in the virtual world.

When shopping online, you risk unintentionally visiting an infected website, which could infect your PC with keylogging spyware, which would be used to steal your data.

Or you might provide your credit card information to a legitimate online merchant that later falls victim to a data breach. 

Another risk is that you might order a particular product but receive something of lesser quality, or a different item entirely, and then have to contend with poor customer service.

And, of course, your identity might get stolen. Lovely. My, how times have changed!

Online retailers would spread more holiday cheer if they did their part to protect the public from credit card fraud by implementing device reputation.

Device reputation, offered by iovation Inc., taps into a global device identification network that also contains millions of verified fraud and abuse events such as chargebacks, identity theft, shipping fraud on those devices.

The device’s reputation is assessed in real time when a transaction is being attempted on a retailer’s website.  And when the device (such as a computer, phone or tablet) has no prior history, iovation profiles its potential risk for the online retailer, identifying high-risk activity before the transaction is approved or product shipped.

Stopping fraudulent transactions upfront spares many holiday revelers the burden of covering the bill for the gift lists of cyber criminals.

Robert Siciliano, personal security and identity theft expert contributor to iovation, discusses identity theft  in front of the National Speakers Association. (Disclosures)

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