It is officially the holiday season. And the Internet makes it so easy and convenient for us to purchase holiday presents. (Indeed, I must confess, I already have shopped on Amazon and have bought dozens of presents for my family members.) In fact, this user-friendliness, as opposed to trudging out and waiting in lines at stores, might result even the purchase of more presents than otherwise.

But, and there always seems to be a "but," as reported recently by USA Todaycybercriminals have been lurking in the vicinity of Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the overall holiday season.

Cybercriminals Take Aim at Holiday Shoppers

What have they been up to? They have been busy inundating the Internet with emails, social media postings and search results that contain links that offer pitches for various scams and worthless products.

This is not nice. It's downright naughty. Cybercriminals go where the money is, and unquestionably plenty of money heads in the direction of online holiday purchases.

Emails containing spoofed delivery confirmations and order notices allegedly from brand-name companies such as Amazon, eBay, Walmart, Target, Toys"R"Us, FedEx, UPS, and DHL reportedly have been on the rise as we move into the holiday season. If a user clicks on a link provided, the user may relinquish control of his or her computer to a cybercriminal.

Smartphones Present Greatest Risk

Smartphones reportedly are the least secure purchasing platform, with USA Today reporting 1.3 percent of sales on them being fraudulent, as compared to 0.8 percent fraudulent sales on desktop computers and 0.5 percent fraudulent sales on tablets.

Holiday online shoppers need to be careful. They should exercise a healthy dose of caution with respect to information they receive soliciting holiday shopping. And they should shop at trusted Web sites.

With a bit of care and skepticism, we can have a wonderful holiday season, replete with legitimate online holiday gift purchases.