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Watch that package: Supply chain scams on the rise

An attack on one company puts mounting pressure on several, increasing the chance of a ransom pay-out.

Retailers are scrambling around supply chain problems to have enough holiday merchandise this year - Copyright AFP ABBAS MOMANI
Retailers are scrambling around supply chain problems to have enough holiday merchandise this year - Copyright AFP ABBAS MOMANI

While supply chain issues inconvenience many shoppers, it is not only stock outs that are a concern. The supply chain disruptions are also creating a windfall for cybercriminals.

This rests on the chaos of last-minute gift buying to meet shipping deadlines. The inevitability of rushing to order something probably makes it easier for hackers to prey on busy shoppers.

According to Daniel Markuson, digital privacy expert at Nord Security, the exposed weaknesses in the supply chain only make it more vulnerable for ransomware attacks. Markuson tells Digital Journal: “Hackers will focus their efforts on supply chain attacks.”

The COVID-19 situation has not assisted either. Markuson notes: “Following the two years of turmoil in supply chains across industries, cybercriminals will aim to capitalize on this intricate part of the global economy. The co-dependency of actors involved in the make-up of supply chains renders them a tempting target for cybercriminals. An attack on one company puts mounting pressure on several, increasing the chance of a ransom pay-out. That’s why recovering supply chains will become prime targets for cyberattacks in 2022.”

To aid both businesses and consumers, Markuson provides the latest shipping scams that are out there, waiting for the unsuspecting to slip up.

‘Undelivered’ Packages

These are fake emails claiming that there are undelivered packages waiting for you. To redeliver it, you’re prompted to pay a fee, which may cause you to lose credit card details.

Tracking/Delivery Detail Scams

Beware of fraudulent text messages RE: “There’s a delivery waiting for you” that take you to malicious websites that infect your device with malware or fake websites that steal your account and credit card credentials.

Bait and Switch Scam

Best-case scenario is that you’ll end up with a cheap knock-off, but clicking on that flashy banner might also put malware on your device, bringing annoying ads, or worse, spy on you, gather your data, and send it to a remote user.

Discarded Packages

Packages you receive often contain your name, address, email, and telephone number. If scammers find a discarded package with sensitive information in a dumpster, they can use it for a targeted online attack.

Job Postings

During the holiday season, delivery companies hire extra staff to handle the increased workload, but some job offers can be fake. Perpetrators might impersonate recognized businesses and trick you into revealing your personal details.

Pyramid Schemes

A good example is the Secret Sister. The scammers behind it claim you need to send one gift to a stranger to receive six gifts back. Usually, they target women interested in a pre-holiday gift exchange. However, after you have sent your gift, most likely you won’t get anything in return.

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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