black Friday, cyber Monday, online shopping

8 Black Friday and Cyber Monday online shopping safety tips: Stay vigilant!

The internet has undoubtedly revolutionized a user’s shopping experience. The world has swiftly shifted from physical to online shopping without much resistance. Online stores are super convenient as they not only allow the advantage of skipping crowded malls but offer the most enticing deals on reputable brands. A recent report by TransUnion, a Chicago-based consumer credit reporting company, revealed that over 75% of consumers would be doing at least half of their shopping online for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Though these online retailers strive to provide a secure shopping experience to their users, they have been somehow failing over the years.

Major cyber risks targeting online shoppers on Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Online shopping leaves you vulnerable to different types of cyber threats, but knowing what to expect can keep you alert.

1. Phishing

Scammers take advantage of holiday festivities. They imitate well-known brands and send fraudulent emails offering tempting deals on your favorite products, encouraging their targets to reveal their details. This information usually includes passwords, credit card numbers, or other relevant data. The email entraps the target by presenting exclusive deals on something they have been longing to buy.

Cyber tip: Avoid clicking on the links attached in an email. Bookmark your favorite online shopping websites and use the same to shop.

2. Data Theft

Data theft is another cyber risk, mainly occurred because of weak system administration. Though various regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), enforce online businesses to stay in compliance with new standards, a few of them are still susceptible to cyber threats. Companies are continuously working to create a secure online platform for their users. As per the British Retail Consortium’s (BRC) recent survey, the retail industry spent £1.9 billion on crime prevention and losses from crime.

Cyber tip: As an aware consumer, share your details only on the trusted websites.

3. Malware

Malicious software that can damage or alter the intent of targeted programs are referred to as malware. Some of the notorious malware attacks of 2019 are Emotet, Dridex, and GandCrab.

Cyber Tip: Create three to four random passwords and use them for your different accounts. Do not create passwords that are relevant to personal details.

4. Paid Online Reviews

New customers rely on ratings and reviews, particularly those five-starred reviews. Fake positive reviews are capable of making a scamming website look like an authentic one. Fraudsters sometimes buy or use fake accounts to post nice reviews about fraud websites.

Cyber tip: Check the authenticity of a review before you trust an online retailer or their fake products.

5. Fake Goods

Online retailers have been putting up constraints against counterfeit goods, and yet, they still exist on different online shopping platforms. There have been instances where the customer has ordered electronic devices (pre-paid) but received damaged products or other products.

Cyber tip: Use trusted websites while shopping online.

Protect Yourself with These Tips While Shopping Online

Online shopping is a fun experience as long as you don’t fall prey to cyber risks. Forewarning is the best way to keep your data safe. Follow these tips have a positive online shopping experience:

1. Don’t click on links sent from unknown sources

Email phishing is one of the most common ways to gain access to credit card details or your digital identity. Scammers use it frequently to target their victims. They send a sale or discount-related email, including a link seeking personal information or redirecting you to a cloned website.

In case you come across such emails, visit the retailer’s website and shop from there.

2. Don’t download or open attachments from retailers

Online retailers don’t hide their upcoming/ongoing sale or discounts in an attachment; that’s what fraudsters do. Cyberattackers send malware disguised as attachments through emails.

Avoid downloading and opening attachments, sent from retailers, and any other big-name firms.

3. Be cautious of pop-up ads

Apart from emails, pop-ups are another prevalent medium that helps perpetrators get your data. These pop-ups are usually a part of malvertising, “malicious advertising,” campaign. These ads can infect your system with a wide range of malware or redirect you to a fake website designed to steal your data.

4. E-skimming definitely exists, beware of them

In card skimming, criminals install a device at ATMs or gas stations to gather card details. The same practice has gone digital now as cyber attackers are using it pull off online scams. Cyber thieves inject trusted retailer websites with malicious code that collects credit card details.

Opt for third-party transactions, thus, restricting cybercriminals from having your card information. You can also create virtual payment cards that create temporary card numbers, leaving your original card details secure.

5. Use credit cards

Experts suggest using credit cards over debit cards. For instance, the US-based Fair Credit Billing Act considers a consumer liable to only up to $50 of online fraud. That’s why major credit card companies offer “zero liability” policies.

6. Avoid using public wi-fi to shop

Open networks offer a smooth passage to potential cyber threats. With bad bots and cyber attackers being proactive during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, public Wi-Fi can infect your system with malware or steal private data.

Rely on private Wi-Fi access for online shopping. If you are using public networks, use Virtual Private Network (VPN) as it encrypts your online activities and browsing history.

7. Use random and unique passwords for online portals

Using the same password for different websites seems like a convenient option. You don’t have to memorize multiple passwords for individual platforms. But in the case of a cybercriminal gaining hold of your credentials, the perpetrator can access all your accounts.

Use a password manager to generate secure, random passwords, which are not easy to crack.

8. Keep a close eye on all bank accounts

Monitor your bank and credit card accounts, especially during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Cybercriminals sophisticatedly transfer smaller amounts that sometimes go unnoticed by the bot technology.

Protect your accounts with an extra layer of security, i.e., multi-factor authentication. You can use apps to monitor your accounts for suspicious online activities continuously.

With the approaching festivities, online shopping is an attractive deal for most of us. But, it offers a level field to cyber attackers also. Learn how to keep your guard up while shopping online with our Certified Secure Computer User (C|SCU). The program has every skill that you need to fight against credit card fraud or avoid phishing emails. It helps you become a pro at securing your information assets from rapidly increasing cyberattacks!

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