Study: Financial botnets target e-retail sites during Black Friday

Cybersecurity firm Kaspersky’s “Black Friday Alert 2019: Net Shopping Bag of Threats” saw the uptick in cybercrimes targeting specifically e-commerce websites specializing in fashion, shoes, gifts, toys, and jewelry. Consumers looking for deals in these areas during the coming weeks are advised to be careful when making online purchases.

Kaspersky security researches prepared the Black Friday Alert 2019: Net Shopping Bag of Threats to evaluate what risks consumers may face during the holiday sales season.

Black Friday is one of the most anticipated retail sales periods in the world when brands offer consumers huge discounts and promotional offers. It is also the time when cyber-fraudsters are cherry-picking victims. To understand the extent of fraudsters’ activity, Kaspersky researchers analyzed Black Friday threats, including the activities of botnets that distribute banking Trojans — malware aimed at stealing users’ credentials and financial data.

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Botnets are networks of computers infected with malware. Depending on the will of the botnet owner, the malware may download additional malicious modules to use for other purposes. Using state of the art technology, Kaspersky tracks the activity of multiple botnets and is able to learn when a particular one is being changed and new abilities added.


Recently, Kaspersky researchers observed botnets made of computers infected with malware aimed at intercepting users’ credentials to gain access to leading e-commerce websites and subsequently (in some cases) bank card details, attached to user accounts in particular e-shops. Kaspersky found 15 malware families that were targeting a total of 91 consumer e-commerce sites and mobile apps across the world.

Of those, consumer goods such as clothing stores, jewelry, and toys appear to be the key focus of financial botnets operators this season, with 28 websites from this category part of the malware families mentioned above. This was followed by the entertainment segment, including movies, music, and games (20 sites targeted). Users of e-commerce brands dealing with the travel industry, such as transportation tickets retailers, taxi services and hotels are also in the list of top sites targeted, with 15 popular websites.

Hunted brands

Last year the situation was different. The total number of targeted brands was lower at just 67, while the top of the most “hunted” brands was led by consumer apparel, entertainment, and consumer electronics websites. This year, only two websites from the latter category were identified as targeted by one of 15 malicious families.

“The growing interest of cybercriminals in getting users’ credentials of e-commerce brands is easy to understand,” said Oleg Kupreev, security researcher at Kaspersky. “In some cases, there are credit card details or loyalty program card details linked with these accounts and getting access to an e-shop account of a user would also mean access to their money. And even if there is no direct financial gain, personal user accounts contain a lot of valuable information that could be used to further target users, such as purchase history or personal information related to a delivery address, etc. Such information is highly valued in the underground market and will inevitably find a buyer. However, the good news for consumers is that through simple precautionary measures and remaining vigilant, they can stay safe. We wish everyone a pleasant shopping experience this Black Friday and during the festive season.”

To stay safe during the Black Friday period, Kaspersky recommends shoppers:

  • Avoid purchasing from websites that appear suspicious or flawed, no matter how great their Black Friday deals are.
  • Don’t click on unfamiliar links you receive in emails or social media messages, even from people you know, unless you were expecting the message.
  • Double-check the email address of the sender. If it is not the official brand’s website domain, do not click on the link.
  • Choose payment processing services that use multifactor authorization of purchases, if available.
  • Use a dedicated security solution on your device, with built-in features to create a secure environment for all financial transactions and prevent fraud, such as Kaspersky Security Cloud and Kaspersky Internet Security.