The fourth Thursday of November means one thing and, no, it's not turkey! It's the start of the holiday shopping season which all begins on the infamous Black Friday and stretches to newly popularized Cyber Monday. While millions take part in this annual dash for deals, criminals also join in to prowl on unsuspecting shoppers. Over the years, corporate giants like Target, Starbucks, eBay, and Zappos all have fallen prey to the malicious intents of hackers which led to disasters for both the business as well as eager shoppers.
There are, however, steps you can take to stay cyber safe this holiday shopping season. Here are a few tips:
1) Be aware while using public WiFi as they pose a major security risk
Do not conduct sensitive activities such as online shopping, using a public wireless network as they pose a major security alert. Free WiFi networks are a hacker’s paradise owing to lack of proactive security.
2) Ensure that the E-commerce website has an HTTPS connection with a valid encryption certificate
The data that is sent over a regular HTTP connection, between your browser and the E-commerce website that you are connected to, will be in plain text and therefore can be read by any hacker looking to exploit you. Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) is the secure version of HTTP, where all communications are securely encrypted.
For the implementation of an HTTPS connection, you will need a valid SSL certificate.
3) Be cautious about offers online – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
Beware of the deals that are too good to be true as there’s a high probability of you getting scammed! Fraudulent scammers pretend to be legitimate online sellers by using a fake website or posting a fake ad that looks too tempting to resist.
4) Keep changing your passwords from time to time
Ensure that you use different passwords for different E-commerce websites and mobile apps. Make use of passwords that are complex and unique in nature.
5) Think before you click
Use caution while clicking on any unknown links. Delete emails that seem suspicious or are from unknown sources. Scammers would make use of your email address to send shopping deals or discount coupons that look genuine in nature.
6) Limit the amount of information you post online
When you create a new account on any E-commerce app or website, ensure that you just provide your basic information required to get your account active. There is no need for you to answer security or privacy questions while making a purchase or checking out on the E-commerce app or website.
7) Review and understand the details of an E-commerce app before downloading
Always make it a point to download mobile apps from the official app stores or the official website of the E-commerce retailer. Be aware of the what information or app permissions are being asked, before you click on the download button. Avoid downloading apps from third-party play stores as threat actors make use of the festive season to create fraudulent apps that look as if they are associated with the real brand.
“1 in 10 mobile apps out of the 5,315 total that can be found searching “Black Friday” in global app stores is blacklisted as malicious, or apps that can trick users into downloading malware, giving up their login credentials and credit card information.” – RiskIQ
I hope these cybersecurity tips for Black Friday and Cyber Monday help you stay ahead of the security curve. Stay cyber safe!