Safety Tips for Black Friday & Cyber Monday Online Shopping
Gearing up for the shopping extravaganza that Black Friday and Cyber Monday have to offer? Well, it’s definitely a great time for shoppers and bargain hunters, people don’t just stomp the brick-and-mortar stores, they throng the online shopping portals as well.
Online shopping need not always be secure, there are lots of security risks associated with it. When there is a surge in online shopping (National Retail Federation says retailers experience 30% surge during the November-December season), cybercriminals too would definitely want to make use of the opportunity to do some mischief. They know that this is the time when they can do some hacking and get away with loads of sensitive personal data.
Among the security risks associated with online shopping, the most important is phishing attacks. Every year hundreds of thousands of dollars are lost as a result of phishing scams that target online shopping stores. Using impersonation or fake emails, the hackers trick users into revealing their personal information- card details, addresses, login credentials, social security card number etc.
Another prominent risk relates to malware infections. Cybercriminals seek to use malware attacks to infect devices/systems and then eavesdrop on browsing activities of the unsuspecting users.
How to stay secure…
To stay safe while being engaged in online shopping activities during the Black Friday & Cyber Monday shopping season, there are certain things that can be practiced. These include:
Staying wary of unsolicited emails– There is always a very noticeable kind of increase in the frequency of unsolicited emails in your inbox during any such shopping season. Most of these unsolicited emails would be spam, containing malicious attachments or links. The key is to stay wary of such emails and never download the attachments or click on the links that come with such emails. The subject line might be tempting, the email might seem to be coming from a genuine source, but you must be very careful while dealing with such emails.
Avoiding credit cards and using alternative methods– Hackers are always on the lookout for people who use credit cards for making payments; credit cards attract all kinds of online threats and also lead to identity theft. The best option would be to go for virtual credit cards or alternative methods like PayPal, Android Pay, a prepaid debit card with limited money etc.
Installing security patches on time– This is of utmost importance. Whichever device you use, and whatever OS or other software you use, make it a policy to install security patches on time. Not installing the latest security patches could lead to devastating cyberattacks and data breaches. Stay protected by applying the latest security patches, with all promptness.
Avoiding shopping via unsecured, public Wi-Fis
Avoiding public Wi-Fis is generally an advisable thing to do, for secured internet browsing. It’s even more advisable to avoid public Wi-Fis when you are engaged in online shopping. Public Wi-Fis or hotspots are mostly insecure, with lots of vulnerabilities infesting them. Hackers can always devise different ways to hack user devices over public Wi-Fi networks, following which they could monitor the devices and the network activities associated with the users. They could also steal valuable data and cause other damages to users who use unsecured, public Wi-Fis.
Using a reliable VPN– Setting up a VPN (Virtual Private Network) and using a reliable VPN for shopping activities is always recommended. This would provide better security by ensuring proper encryption to the entire connection and IP-related anonymity. VPN also protects from malware attacks and malicious threats.
Julia Sowells639 Posts
Julia Sowells has been a technology and security professional. For a decade of experience in technology, she has worked on dozens of large-scale enterprise security projects, and even writing technical articles and has worked as a technical editor for Rural Press Magazine. She now lives and works in New York, where she maintains her own consulting firm with her role as security consultant while continuing to write for Hacker Combat in her limited spare time.