First there was Black Friday and then there was Cyber Monday. The run-up to Christmas now offers some great bargains. The trouble is, according to our data privacy expert Lucy Farrow, it’s also become a bumper time of year for the cyber criminals and malware developers.
Before Cyber Monday 2016 it was estimated that more than a third of consumers would shop online on the day. With many shopping from the comfort of their homes, Cyber Monday has now gone mobile with 25% of online shoppers expected to make holiday purchases from their smartphones or tablets.
As the popularity of Cyber Monday grows and the deals get bigger and better, online shopping is becoming the new norm and it seems like every day could soon be a Cyber Monday. However the risks of shopping online also increase.
Here are some important things to remember whenever you are shopping online:
- Shop from a secure computer – A computer device that isn’t protected by security software is more likely to be compromised by malware.
- Shop using a secure connection – data can be at risk during transit if a cyber-criminal controls the network. Always look for the HTTPS lock symbol in your browser address window before buying online.
- Use trusted retailers – any website could be the subject of attack by hackers, but limiting your shopping to established and trusted retailers can limit your exposure. Bookmark your trusted sites; don’t be tempted to follow a link from other sites.
- Don’t fall for ‘too good to be true’ deals – there are lots of legitimate offers from trusted mainstream retailers, but cyber-criminals prey on shoppers’ desire for the lowest prices and will offer fake products.
- Review your credit/debit card statements regularly – if you find a transaction that doesn’t match your purchases contact your bank or card issuer immediately.
- Use unique passwords for each site you shop from – whilst it can be a pain to remember them all, if one of them is hacked then the cyber-criminal will be unsuccessful in attempting to use it on other sites.
- If you are shopping from a tablet or smartphone, use a trusted vendor’s app, not a web browser - vendors have more control over their own apps than they do over mobile browsers.
Do these things to keep yourself safe from cyber-crime and you may be able to avoid the (cyber) Monday blues.
Lucy Farrow is a Financial Crime & Data Privacy Specialist at Old Mutual Wealth.