It turns out that finding a parking spot at the mall isn't the most dangerous part of Black Friday. According to ThreatMetrix, a provider of cybersecurity solutions, the biggest threat consumers face may be the phone they carry in their pockets. The company analyzed data from its global network and said that, due to the increasing number of transactions originating from mobile devices, retailers and consumers now face an increased risk from fraudsters who target those devices.

"Mobile consumers typically store their credit card information in retail accounts, rather than entering the information during each transaction, making online retail account takeovers more profitable, and therefore, more attractive to fraudsters," said Alisdair Faulkner, chief products officer for ThreatMetrix. "During the holiday season in particular, consumers find it much more convenient to keep credit card information stored online as they make such a high volume of purchases. This is especially risky if consumers use the same email address and password for several websites — doing so initiates a trail of destruction that is equivalent to unlocking every door in the house, easily allowing criminals to hack numerous accounts at once."

ThreatMetrix said the risk posed by mobile devices is increased thanks to consumer behavior: Consumers log into retail and banking accounts twice as often per month on their mobile devices as they do on their personal computers. And this number only multiplies during the holiday season, the company said. Additionally, mobile transactions take place in real time and most retailers have no way of manually accepting or rejecting all suspicious transactions.

"Cybersecurity should be a top priority for retailers this Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the rest of the holiday season," said Faulkner. "Especially with so many consumers traveling at this time, retailers need to put forth extra effort to assure transactions are originating from authentic networks. The last thing retailers and consumers want is to wake up on Black Friday with a 'turkey hangover' and a compromised credit card."

For more stories like this, visit the security research center.

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