The inboxes are filling with promotional emails promising incredible offers and making it hard to tell genuine deals from scams. It can be all too easy to rush into making a quick purchase online to secure a Black Friday deal. Unfortunately, cybercriminals see the Holiday season as an ideal opportunity to lure shoppers with the promise of discounts. Today we are looking at some tips that will hopefully help you shop safely online this Black Friday and reduce the risk of giving an early Christmas gift to cybercriminals.
Be Selective About Where You Choose to Shop
If you are making a purchase from a retailer or a website you don’t know and trust, carry out some research first. Look online for reviews and feedback. If you are purchasing an item from an online marketplace, you can usually view the seller’s feedback history before moving forward with the purchase.
If you receive an enticing offer through email or text, it may contain links to fake websites. If you are unsure, don’t be quick to click on the link. Instead, type the website address in the browser address bar, or search via a search engine and follow the results.
Use a Payment Method That Offers Protection
Be sure to use a secure payment method such as a credit card that offers purchase protection. You can also consider using an online payment processing platform, such as PayPal, Apple Pay, or Google Pay. When you use these payment processing platforms, the retailer doesn’t get to see your payment details. While they offer payment protection, they may not provide the same protection as your credit card provider, so check before you sign up.
Ensure the Website is Secure
It’s important to take care when accessing any website. When you visit a genuine website, there should be a lock icon in the browser’s address bar.
The lock symbol doesn’t guarantee that the website itself is legitimate and secure – it means that the connection is secure. If the padlock icon is not there, or the browser says “not secure,” don’t enter any personal information or create an account.
Only Provide Mandatory Details
You should only fill in the mandatory details on a website when making a purchase. These usually include your name, delivery address and payment details. You shouldn’t be asked to provide any additional security information to complete your purchase.
If at all possible, avoid creating an account with the e-commerce website when making your payment. You can usually complete your purchase as a guest, without creating an account or using an online payment platform (such as Google Pay or PayPal). Only create an account if you think you’ll become a regular customer with the store.
The store may also ask you if they can save your payment details for a quicker checkout next time you shop with them. Unless you’re going to use the site regularly, it’s best not to allow this.
Use Separate and Strong Passwords
If you are using the same password for more than one of your online accounts, then you could be at risk. Criminals could easily steal your password from one account and use it to access your other accounts. This is why your online accounts must be protected by strong passwords – ones that you don’t use anywhere else.
You can further protect your online accounts by enabling two-factor authentication (2FA). 2FA is amongst the easiest and yet most powerful ways to improve security. It gives your online accounts additional protection alongside the regular password/username. If you do not have it set up, it is worthwhile to spare a little time to adopt this practice to ensure that you shop safely online this Black Friday
Private Browsing Does Not Keep You Safe
We wrote a blog about Private Browsing not so long ago, and it could not ring truer for Black Friday shopping and in the run-up to Christmas. The thing to remember is that most of us have very little control over who can see our internet browsing activities. Private browsing does not secure your data, and it is really only ‘private’ within your household. There are plenty of threats to your privacy, even in private browsing mode, such as malware, spyware, keyloggers, and phishing attacks. When you are surfing the Internet, you are still connected to other web servers. Fort his reason, there is no such thing as total privacy and security in the Internet realm.
Watch Out for Phishing Emails
You are likely to receive many emails and messages from online retailers offering Black Friday deals. We ask that you stay cautious as some of these emails could be fake, containing links intended to steal your information. Many phishing emails are very difficult to recognize and appear to come from trusted, well known brands. As a general rule, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Cybercriminals recognize the psychological science of trust and attempt to exploit consumer vulnerabilities through their phishing cons. If something doesn’t look right, don’t click.
Most retailers have invested in cutting-edge systems to protect their customers from cyber threats. However, the shoppers also have a part to play and should take extra care when searching for festive deals. We hope that the above tips will help you shop safely online this Black Friday.
If you need any help with creating strong passwords, updating your anti-virus software or ensuring that you have a reliable data backup plan, call us any time (970) 663-1200.