This year Black Friday is the 23rd November and Cyber Monday follows on the 26th November.
Black Friday started in the US and is the informal name for the day following Thanksgiving, the fourth Thursday of November. This day is now regarded as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season with Cyber Monday following it and they are two of the biggest shopping days of the year. This creates an unprecedented opportunity for Cyber criminals to have access to a huge number of potential targets compared to any other day of the year.
During this period, it is highly probable that many employees will use their corporate IT systems to undertake some element of their online shopping. This will result in an increase in the risk of attacks aimed at the systems in use. Attackers will continue to tailor their phishing campaigns and social engineering campaigns to take advantage of vulnerable shoppers regardless of what IT systems they are using so both corporate and home users need to be vigilant.
We have put together a great list of tips to help you to stay safe whilst shopping during this time and hope that you will share it, so your friends, family and colleagues can protect themselves during the upcoming online shopping season.
- Watch out for fake websites
It is very easy for criminals to create websites that look exactly like other retailers boasting some incredible deals to entice you in. The quality of fake sites varies; if you notice a spelling mistake or grammatical error then you are very likely not on the genuine website. Also make sure the URL looks correct, and you can check that you are on the proper website by going direct if you know it and not via any links on other web pages or pop-ups.
- If you can pay with credit cards
Credit cards give you protection if things go wrong with a purchase. If you have issues with the delivery and them not showing up or they are faulty then Section 75 of the Consumer Rights Act means you can claim the money back, the goods however must have cost more than £100 and less than £30,000. If the item was less than £100 you may still be covered by your bank, this is worth checking.
- When using public wifi make sure your devices are secure
Hotspots that are offered at many places e.g. coffee shops, retail stores, restaurants are so convenient these days, but they are can put you in a very vulnerable position. It doesn’t take much for a Cyber Criminal to use these networks to launch an attack and they can even create fake hotspots to lure you in. If you have to use them then make sure your device is protected with security software and don’t make any purchases. If you must make that purchase there and then, be sure to use your cellular network or a trusted VPN to be extra safe.
- Make sure that the site is secure
Never purchase anything that is from a site that doesn’t start with https at the start of the URL. By having https at the beginning of the URL means that the all communication between your browser and the website you are visiting is encrypted. It’s important to know that just because the site start with https, it does not guarantee it’s safe to use. Just like genuine shopping sites, Cyber Criminals will use https with their fake sites to make them more convincing. Remember to be vigilant and watch out for fake websites.
- Keep your eyes peeled for dodgy emails
Phishing emails are so common these days and they are very deceptive. They are designed to appear from a trusted organisation such as your bank or favourite online shopping website. Their aim is to dupe you into revealing your personal details that could then allow the attacker to infiltrate your online accounts. These emails normally contain links: Never Click On Them. Always double check the email address and also the link URL. Banks will never email you asking for personal details. Again, go direct to the bank’s website and login to check if you want to make sure and Never Click On The Link.
- If it looks too good to be true, then…
As the old adage, “if it’s too good to be true it probably is” is a good one, but these days there are a lot of good deals to be had especially during the upcoming weekend sales. Our advice is to make sure you do your research especially if you are buying online, also speak to friends or even seek advice from your IT security specialist to double check that the site looks genuine. It won’t take a lot of time and the deal should still be there when you return.
There is some more great advice on the consumer website Which? and is definitely worth checking out https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/how-to-spot-a-fake-fraudulent-or-scam-website