Bots and scams have been increasingly used by cybercriminals amid the holiday shopping season, reports The Record, a news site by cybersecurity firm Recorded Future. The prevalence of fraudulent websites and charities, as well as malicious links leveraged by attackers during the season, should prompt shoppers to activate multi-factor authentication while being vigilant of website addresses and the legitimacy of sales offers sent through emails, according to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. Malicious online activity has been observed by Google to increase even before Black Friday, with spam and scams occurring earlier every year. Gmail was able to block 231 billion spam and phishing messages during the past two weeks, compared with nearly 15 billion blocked messages on an average day, said Google Workspace Trust & Safety Manager Nelson Bradley. Fake gift card requests and giveaways, phony donation requests, and subscription renewals were among the most common blocked emails. A separate study from Check Point Security revealed the growing number of visits to spoofed sale sites as Black Friday nears, while Bitdefender noted that Black Friday spam rose by 19% this year.