Cyber Monday is nearly upon us! Shoppers everywhere are gearing up in preparation ready for the internet to be saturated with deals and bargains in the run up to Christmas. Whilst shopping online is generally rather safe these days, events like Cyber Monday tend to attract plenty of criminals too. Cyber Monday this year looks set to be no different in fact it may even be more tempting to hackers and scammers, especially when you consider the potential for shortages of popular items as a result of ongoing supply chain issues and rising prices due to inflation Scammers are sure to try and lure you in with incredible deals and hard to get items. As such, P3M Works have created a handy guide with 5 key tips and tricks to help keep both you, and your hard-earned money safe during Cyber Monday.
1. Don't use public Wi-Fi to do your shopping.
This is important, because the passwords and other personal information you enter on public Wi-Fi networks are easy for hackers to steal as they are generally unencrypted. This means you will be especially vulnerable to hackers who may be on the network too. So, if you were planning on a spot of online shopping at your local coffee house or pub, please do consider the risks beforehand. If you must shop using public Wi-Fi, we highly recommend installing a good VPN (Virtual Private Network) beforehand. This creates a secure tunnel that will help keep your details safe.
2. Use a credit card, not a debit card
While you can’t completely avoid the risk of credit card fraud, using a credit card is safer than using a debit card. Credit cards have better fraud protection than debit cards. If your account is suddenly drained, you can cancel the payment and get your money back. With a debit card, it’s potentially gone forever as you face an uphill battle with the bank to get it back! Credit cards also generally have lower transaction limits than debit cards. This makes them less appealing to criminals and therefore more secure. Also, refrain from saving any credit or debit card information on retailer sites, it's nice and convenient to quickly autofill bank details straight from your browser, but the risks if that data is stolen far outweigh the inconvenience of typing in your card number repeatedly.
3. Stick to reputable sites
Go directly to big name retailer websites rather than clicking on and adverts or links you may see online or on social media. This will help prevent you from falling prey to fraudsters who go out of their way to create very convincing social stories and adverts designed to lure you in and take you to fake websites. Shopping with trusted bands may also help you to prevent any other issues further down the line as well such as fake products, late delivery and difficult returns.
4. Look for Secure Sites
Still want to shop away from the big department stores and retailers? That’s ok, but make sure to check that the site has valid security in place by doing the following:
As a general rule of thumb look for the padlock icon in the address bar in your browser. This indicates that a website has secured its connection with SSL (Secured Socket Layer) encryption, which makes it more secure
Make sure your browser's URL starts with "https://". Some browsers might display "http" before the web address, but if you see this, verify whether there's an "s" at the end of the URL and make sure that it's not followed by an "a" or any other character
Be aware though, that some scammers do create fake websites and install an SSL certificate on them to make them look credible. To combat this always be on the lookout for spelling mistakes, grammatical errors or anything else that looks slightly out of place like poor quality imagery. Following point number 3 and keeping to reputable sites will help to mitigate this further.
5. Avoid sharing accounts with family & friends
It's easy to do, and everyone has done it at some point – you share your account details to allow a friend or family member to take advantage of next day shipping or special discounts. But account sharing is a sure-fire way to increase your exposure to cyber criminals. This gives scammers two potential entry points to your accounts, and you can never be sure if your family member has also inadvertently shared those details with someone else thus further increasing the risk to you. Most of all though you run the risk of accidentally showing a loved one what you’ve bought them!
6. Know the value of a strong Password
Do you have an account with your favourite retailer to make shopping easier? Thats no problem, but make sure you protect that account with a strong password to keep the information inside it safe. Passwords should ideally be 10+ characters long with a mixture of upper and lowercase letters as well as numbers and symbols. Always, avoid using personal information such as birthdays or pet names as with a bit of research, hackers will be able to find this out. You will also need to make sure that you aren't doubling up on passwords for different accounts, as once a hacker has that password, they then have the keys to the entire kingdom! If you struggle to remember lots of long and complex passwords for different accounts, we highly recommend getting a password manager. There are lots of these available online and they are a simple and convenient way to store and generate secure passwords. Most of them also have auto fill functionality so you will never need to remember a password or username again!
Cyber Monday will be filled with lots of great deals and bargains, and we encourage you to take full advantage of it. However, you need to do so armed with knowledge of the risks that come with online shopping, especially during Cyber Monday. Following the tips above should hopefully help you to stay safe online. Be careful not to fall victim to hackers or scammers and always keep in mind that if a deal seems too good to be true.... it probably is.
If you or your business need any help, information or assurance regarding your Cyber Security, get in touch today and our Team will be more than happy to help!