A third of online Black Friday shoppers were completely fake

Robot Pushing a Shopping Cart
(Image credit: Andrey_Popov / Shutterstock)

If you had trouble scoring that new smart TV or Xbox Series X this Black Friday, bots and fake users could be to blame according to a new report from the cybersecurity firm CHEQ.

The firm's new “The Impact of Invalid Traffic on Marketing” report revealed that bots and fake users made up 35.7 percent of all online shoppers on Black Friday 2021. To compile its report, CHEQ polled over 42,000 websites in North America, Europe and Asia and performed hundreds of cybersecurity tests on each site visitor to determine their authenticity.

CHEQ was able to uncover a wide variety of fake traffic including malicious scrapers and crawlers, sophisticated botnets, fake accounts, click farms and proxy users as well as a host of illegitimate users committing ecommerce-related fraud.

Following the money

Of the sites monitored by CHEQ, ecommerce sites were found to be particularly vulnerable this Black Friday with high exposure to carding attacks, chargeback fraud, data breaches, fake sign-ups and other types of disruptive activities.

While consumers might have missed out on some of the best deals, CHEQ estimates that damage to businesses this Black Friday could surpass $1.2bn as a result of financial fraud, skewed data and lost revenue.

CHEQ CEO Guy Tytuniovich explained in a press release why an uptick in online shopping during the pandemic has led to more cybercriminals targeting online retailers, saying:

"Fake website traffic is a year-round problem, but this Black Friday we've seen a real sharp spike in the online retail sector. This is not a huge surprise to us, given the increase in eCommerce activity, a trend accelerated by the global pandemic. Ultimately, cyber crime follows the money, especially in sectors where business activity is on the rise."

Although shopping from your laptop at home is very convenient, you may want to risk heading out to the stores instead if you want to avoid fighting with bots for the best deals this holiday shopping season.

We've also featured the best ecommerce hosting, best ecommerce platforms and best shopping cart software

Anthony Spadafora

After working with the TechRadar Pro team for the last several years, Anthony is now the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. When not writing, you can find him tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.