Happy Holidays! We hope your season is filled with family, friends, and delicious food. As the holidays approach, you’ll no doubt be thinking about partaking in Cyber Monday deals to prepare for the holidays. In 2020 alone, 72.4 million people shopped on Cyber Monday. Unsurprisingly, as Cyber Monday sales have increased over the past few years, the opportunity for scams and hackers have as well.
In fact, it has recently been revealed that over 4,000 online retailers have been compromised by hackers in an attempt to steal financial and personal information from customers through launching payment-skimming attacks. The majority of targets are small and medium-sized online retailers. For more information about how to shop safely online, check out the NCSC’s Active Cyber Defence programme report and continue reading for additional tips.
Here are some things to watch out for:
- Evaluate the websites you use
- Beware copycat and fake websites- These types of websites are the most popular method scammers use to trick online customers into giving out personal and financial information. Keep an eye out for misspelled links, pixilated site images, sub-standard content, and faulty website functions to spot these types of scams.
- Shop on secure sites- To avoid unsecure sites that may not properly protect your personal and financial information, look for the padlock symbol within the URL line and a URL that begins with “HPPTS://” or “SHTTP://”. These indicate that the website is encrypted and has been secured with an SSL certificate. Additionally, you can visit the Better Business Bureau’s site to verify the website’s legitimacy.
- Consider your methods of payment
- Use a credit card- When shopping online, using a credit card is preferrable, as it provides additional protections when compared to debit cards. Further, if someone makes a fraudulent purchase using your credit card information, you are only liable for the first $50 and even then, most credit card companies cover that. Additionally, a virtual credit card will provide even more protection, as this proxy for your credit card will change with each purchase you make.
- Keep an eye on your bank accounts- During the holiday season, regularly monitor your accounts for suspicious activity. You can also choose to be notified by your bank or credit card company if they notice strange activity on your account or to monitor all activity
- Set a foundation of security
- Use unique passwords- Just under 50% of Americans use identical passwords repeatedly. This puts shoppers at an increased risk of hacking. Using a password manager is a great way to generate and implement the use of strong, unique passwords without having to remember all of them.
- Use a secure network- To avoid cybercriminals accessing your data, use your own phone’s cellular network or a private Wi-Fi connection in lieu of public Wi-Fi when shopping online.
- Ensure your software is up to date- Make sure that your security and device software has been updated prior to Cyber Monday shopping. These often contain patches that would otherwise allow hackers to access your data through vulnerabilities in older systems.
- Extra: Shop happy!
- Don’t give into scarcity and fear when shopping online this holiday season. Cybercriminals recognize that playing on feelings, fears, and a sense of trust are important elements in gaining access to sensitive data. Look out for previously mentioned red flags when shopping for hard-to-find gifts and deals that seem too good to be true. Take a deep breath before you begin your Cyber Monday journey- a late gift is much less harmful than compromised data.
Shop safely and enjoy the holiday season! If you’d like to discuss your network security with us, you can reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.