UAE consumers urged to be extra vigilant to thwart email fraud during shopping season

Nearly 85% of the top 20 UAE online retailers are not actively blocking fraudulent emails from reaching their customers, Proofpoint finds

Online shoppers in the UAE need to be extra vigilant about email fraud during the annual Cyber Monday, Yellow Friday and Black Friday sales, according to cybersecurity company Proofpoint.

Consumers are at a risk of falling prey to email fraud as 85 per cent of the top 20 online retailers in the Emirates are not actively blocking fraudulent emails from reaching their customers, leaving them exposed to cyber attacks, the company said.

“Retailers should prioritise protecting themselves and their customers by implementing simple, yet effective email authentication best practices,” Emile Abou Saleh, regional director at Proofpoint for Middle East and Africa region, said.

“Ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, consumers must remain vigilant and check the validity of all emails … especially at a time when their attention is more likely to be focused on grabbing the best deals,” he added.

Almost 65 per cent of the online retailers have not published Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance (DMARC) record in the UAE, Proofpoint found.

DMARC helps retailers create a record of authorised individuals who can send emails from their official domain. This helps prevent the misuse of a company brand in phishing campaigns.

“With greater numbers of people now online, organisations in all sectors should deploy authentication protocols, such as DMARC, to bolster their email fraud defences and protect customers and businesses,” Mr Saleh said.

Cybercriminals regularly use the method of domain spoofing to pose as well-known brands, by sending an email from a supposedly legitimate address.

These emails are designed to trick people into clicking on links or sharing personal details which can then be used to steal money or identities.

Only 15 per cent of leading retailers in the UAE have implemented the strictest and recommended level of DMARC protection, which actively blocks fraudulent emails from reaching their intended target, said Proofpoint that analysed the primary corporate domains of the top 20 online retailers in the UAE.

Similar to other parts of the world, consumers in the Middle East have pivoted to online shopping during the pandemic and e-commerce has surged as a result compared to a year ago before the health crisis. The GCC's e-commerce sector is predicted to more than double to $50 billion in the next five years, up from $24bn this year, according to consultancy Kearney.’s Yellow Friday, running from November 23-29, and Amazon’s White Friday sales from November 24-30, offer customers up to 70 per cent in discounts when shopping online.

With Black Friday (November 27) and Cyber Monday (November 30) approaching, online retail traffic is expected to surge to an annual high.