Top 5 Cyber Security Tips For Black Friday and Cyber Monday
Black Friday and Cyber Monday traditionally mark the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. They are also a key time of year where you can scour the internet searching for discounts on your favourite brands.
The increase in online shoppers makes it a prime opportunity for malicious actors such as scammers, phishers and identity thieves to take advantage of the flurry of online shoppers for their own malicious activities.
At this time of year, it is paramount to do everything you can to protect your sensitive information and data from malicious criminals.
By following our five cybersecurity tips for a safe Black Friday and Cyber Monday, you’ll be able to shop with confidence while keeping your personal information safe from the bad guys.
1. Only Shop on Legitimate Websites
Malicious attackers have the ability to clone well-known websites to trick consumers into believing they are shopping on a legitimate website. A fake website can appear identical to the real site at a glance but there will be subtle differences.
The indication of an illegitimate website could be pixelated images, broken functionality or poorly spelt content. Another key indicator that a website may be fake is the URL which may be altered in some shape or form. For example, the company's domain name may have a slight misspelling or address, which generally ends in ‘.ie’ is ‘.com’ or ‘.org’ on the malicious website.
Confirm the Website is Secure Before Entering Your Personal Details
Before entering any personal information on a website, you should make sure that the site you are on is safe and secure.
To confirm that it is secure the first thing you should do is look for a padlock symbol in the address bar, and the URL you are on begins with ‘https://’. The ‘S’ indicates that this website has been encrypted with an SSL certificate. Entering sensitive information on a website without HTTPS could be intercepted by cybercriminals.
Unfortunately, it isn’t a foolproof system so before you make a purchase on any website, it is worth double checking the URL is correct.
The website can also be confirmed by submitting the URL to a website safety check tool such as Google Safe Browsing or WHOIS lookup. This quick sanity check may save you a lot of trouble in the long run.
2. Beware of Phishing Emails
Phishing attacks are one of the most popular forms of cyber attacks among cybercriminals simply because they work. Attacks can range from malicious emails sent out in high volumes targeting a broad audience to custom campaigns targeting specific people.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday typically see a rise in phishing attacks with malicious emails designed to trick unsuspecting customers by offering cash prizes or last-minute deals. These emails may appear to come from a well-known brand, even one you have bought from before, but like with websites, all may not be as it seems.
Before clicking on anything in an email, check the email address of the sender is correct, and keep an eye out for any low-resolution images or grammatical errors in the text. Be wary of clicking on any links within the email, you should always verify that the URL you are being redirected to is legitimate.
3. Use Credit or Pre-Paid Debit cards where possible
It is always best to use a credit card when shopping online where possible. If a cybercriminal gains access to your debit card details, they can take money from your account which can be hard to claim back as it can be very difficult to prove.
Credit Cards offer additional protection in comparison to other forms of payment, most major credit card companies such as Mastercard and VISA provides “zero liability” policies which make it easy to claim money back if you are the victim of cyber fraud.
If you don’t have a Credit Card, another alternative is to purchase a Pre-Paid Debit card. These cards allow you to upload a certain amount of money ahead of shopping which you can then spend. They provide a safeguard as they allow you to segregate your bank debit card and card details with online shopping.
4. Avoid Public Wi-Fi
When shopping online, it is always best to use a secure internet connection such as your mobile phone’s data or a private Wi-Fi connection such as your home internet.
Public Wi-Fi should be avoided where possible when conducting financial transactions, sharing your personal information or your financial data. The majority of public Wi-Fi is freely accessible, meaning it doesn’t require authentication to establish a connection and utilise the browser.
An unsecured connection such as public Wi-Fi can provide malicious actors with some easy picking as they can gain direct access to any unsecured devices connected to the same open network as them. Once they have gained access, they can steal your valuable personal information such as passwords, credit card information or other financial details.
Malicious actors can also spread malware across public Wi-Fi which could provide them with unrestricted access to everything on your device.
5. Update / Install Security Software
Before you go online to take advantage of the Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals, check that you have an up-to-date version of your security software or anti-virus.
Security software suppliers continuously release updates to patch any vulnerabilities which may have been uncovered. Having the most up-to-date antivirus, the latest version of the web browser you use installed, and Operating Systems patches installed, such as the latest Windows updates, will limit hackers from exploiting known security vulnerabilities in outdated versions.
If you haven’t purchased an antivirus, make this your first Black Friday purchase!
Although cyberattacks and data breaches are on the rise, it is still possible to safely shop online. Nobody should be afraid to do so, you just need to stay vigilant and proactive while shopping online. Above all, you need to be realistic, if you come across a deal that seems too good to be true, then it may be best to air on the side of caution.
We hope these tips provide you with some useful guidance and information ahead of your shopping.
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