Cyber Monday is the second busiest day for online sales. It’s perfect for grabbing the best deals and getting those Christmas presents early. However, with the increase of cybercrime during the pandemic, Cyber-Monday is set to be ridden with numerous cybercriminals hiding behind several deals that may sound too good to be true. This blog will give you some Cyber Monday Safety Tips to ensure you don’t fall for these scams.
Let’s dive straight in, here are seven top tips to help you stay safe while online shopping:
1. Beware of Fake Websites
A popular way for cybercriminals to trick customers online is to make copies of legitimate websites. They will take the main features of the website they are trying to copy to make it appear as though it’s the original.
The quality of these copied websites can vary some may appear identical others may have mistakes here and there. The first common mistake is that web pages will contain misspelled links, this can be just one character or a few words. When entering a website always check the links first to ensure that they are correct. The second thing to be mindful of is the quality of the images that are displayed, if the website has been copied, they can sometimes appear pixelated, this occurs due to the cybercriminals not having access to the originals.
You may also notice that the website functionality is off, not everything will work the way it is supposed to, the content will also appear to be vague and not as detailed as the original website.
To ensure you know that you are shopping on the correct website make sure you check any links to validate the real destination of the URL and be mindful of the key elements mentioned above. In doubt search for organisations on their social media channels and check the official website listed there.
2. Use Secure Websites
Another way to stay safe on Cyber Monday is to check whether the website is secure. This links to the above as another way of authenticating a website.
To know if a website is secure you need to look at the URL and check that it begins with HTTPS:// rather than HTTP:// and that if you can see a padlock symbol. By checking that the website has the S and padlock, you confirm the website has been encrypted and made secure by an SSL certificate.
An SSL certificate allows websites to encrypt information and provides a level of authentication. Having an SSL certificate allows the website owner to keep its user data secure, verify that they own the website, and prevent attackers from creating fake versions of their website. The use of the SSL certificate is designed to gain users’ trust. This will provide a level of reassurance before making online purchases which is what you need during Cyber Monday.
You can be assured that shopping on a website that has an SSL certificate will be the real company.
3. Be aware of phishing emails
This is a tip that you will have heard time and time again when it comes to being safe online. It is one of the most common methods that cybercriminals use to deceive people into clicking on links and giving up their payment details.
Particularly with Cyber Monday, there will be a lot of emails sent to customers from organisations letting them know what deals to expect and providing a link for a better and easier customer experience. Cybercriminals have become increasingly better at creating a phishing email which in some cases can be difficult to determine its true intention from the initial content.
There are a few specifics that you will need to look out for to ensure you know what emails are genuine and which are not.
The main thing to check on an email is the sender. Where has the email come from? Remember that organisations will never use @gmail or @hotmail, they are also not likely to come from an individual person, larger organisations normally use a more generic email that contain the organisations name. Also, check for spelling mistakes, some cybercriminals try to use as close of a match to the original organisation’s email address but will add an extra character or dot where it shouldn’t be.
Also, the links within the email should be checked, you should hover over a link to see the destination address. If it is something totally unrelated or doesn’t quite look right, then you’ll know it’s most likely a scam.
The best advice regarding emails is to not engage with any of the content that is displayed. Instead, visit your desired retailer’s website to shop for the deals that you may be interested in.
4. Avoid Pop-Ups and Ads
Emails may be one of the most popular ways to fool online customers, but it isn’t the only way to get people clicking onto links that they shouldn’t be.
Another common way that cybercriminals do this is through pop-ups and ads on the side of websites. This is another method of distributing malware and viruses on your device. These pop-ups will entice you onto clicking them by displaying deals that you may be interested in. But unlike emails, it is hard to tell whether the advert is from a legitimate source. In these cases, close any pop-ups and refrain from clicking on adverts that are displayed on the side. Instead, visit the website of the retailer that you are interested in and then check to see if the same deals are being displayed.
5. Always use unique, secure passwords
This is another tip that you will have heard repeatedly when it comes to staying safe online, and it is no different from when shopping online.
Most e-commerce sites now encourage you to make an account with them as part of a better customer experience. It may be tempting when creating these accounts to use the same password. But these accounts hold access to sensitive information such as your card details and email address, which may lead to hackers gaining access elsewhere.
The advice when setting up any new account is to use a unique and strong password every time. If you struggle to remember these passwords, a password manager is a great tool to use to help keep a record. This way you can have multiple variations that you don’t have to worry about remembering.
6. Use credit cards and monitor your bank accounts
When shopping online it is recommended that you use a credit card over a debit card. This is because credit cards provide an extra layer of protection. Many banks have policies in place that help in case you have made a fraudulent purchase, there is a better chance that your bank can reimburse you if a credit card was used as opposed to a debit card.
If a cybercriminal did gain access to your debit card details, they can steal money directly from your account and this proves to be difficult in terms of claiming it back.
7. Use a secure network
The final tip for staying safe online is to use a secure network. Everyone uses their phone on the go and most places attract you with free Wi-Fi. However, you should never connect to a public Wi-Fi connection when you are considering making a purchase. The reason is that public Wi-Fi spots require no authentication to connect which allows cybercriminals to gain direct access to the same open network. If they can access it, they can steal sensitive information such as login credentials, identity, and financial details.
Make sure to use your mobile data or a private Wi-Fi connection to make any purchases.
Despite the increasing threats to online security within the past year, the above will help to ensure that you stay secure. Becoming more vigilant and more aware of potential threats will mean that you will safeguard your personal information and protect your finances.
For some more guidance and advice, click here for what The National Cyber Security Centre advise.