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Cyber criminals target holiday-related P2P media platforms

Cyber criminals capitalise on the popularity of holiday-related media sites to spread malware

Peer-to-peer (P2P) media platforms saw a tremendous spike in fraudulent activity ahead of the holiday season, a report has revealed.

In a P2P network, computing devices use software to connect with each other and share files without requiring the assistance of a remote server.

As many Britons planned for their summer breaks, review sites and other P2P media platforms have become a major target amongst cyber criminals, according to digital identity firm ThreatMetrix.

A report by the firm, which monitors more than 20 billion online transactions each year, reveals that fraudulent new account registrations increased 350% in the second quarter of 2016 in the run up to the summer holidays compared with the same period the year before.

According to the ThreatMetrix Q2 2016 Cybercrime Report, P2P marketplaces are now more popular than ever, with consumers preferring to trust user-generated content over the individual brands or organisations’ websites, but cyber criminals are now using this trend to their advantage.

Nearly a quarter of media transactions were rejected in the second quarter Europe-wide ahead of the key holiday season, the report shows, which represents a 92% increase over 2015 as fraudsters attempt to sign up for accounts, create fraudulent content and distribute spam and malware.

More than 10% of European account creations are now rejected as the impact of multiple high-profile data breaches is felt keenly and fraudsters attempt to sign up for accounts with stolen and spoofed identities, which are easily available for sale on the dark web. This represents an increase of 123% since 2015.

“Using compromised and stolen identities from recent breaches and social engineering hacks, fraudsters are able to exploit these platforms and readers,” said Vanita Pandey, vice-president of strategy and product marketing at ThreatMetrix.

“While there is no direct victim of malicious or false content, the impact is extensive, and over the past few months we’ve seen and stopped millions of compromised identities being tested each day by cyber criminals and bots mimicking the behaviour of trusted customers,” she said.

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