Who doesn’t wait for an exciting start to the Christmas shopping season, right? And what else could be more exciting when you could kickstart your shopping spree while sitting in the comfort of your homes sipping coffee! Over the years, Black Friday and Cyber Monday have established themselves as the milestone dates in the holiday shopping season. And with the advent of smartphones and eCommerce sites and apps, these shopping events have become even more lucrative as shoppers can browse through an endless list of products and that too with amazing discounts and offers.
Despite the ongoing pandemic, in 2020, Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales surpassed $23 Billion, a whopping 40% increase from the previous year (Source: Forbes)! Moreover, around 57% of the holiday shoppers showed interest in shopping online amidst the present scenario.
According to the Digital Dot, ecommerce sales have increased by approximately 50% since pre-pandemic levels and currently account for around 21% of global retail sales in 2022.
While all of this sounds pretty fascinating and seems like a heavenly bliss for online shoppers, does this come at the cost of security?
The answer is a big yes! Past research has confirmed that in order to fool the consumers into giving up their login credentials as well as their credit card information, threat actors make use of keywords, brand names, and branding of popular e-tailers alongside “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” in fake apps and other landing pages promoting deals and coupons. That is why it becomes essential to make sure that we as shoppers remain vigilant and more cautious than ever as we progress towards the holiday shopping season.
Here are some of the recommended cybersecurity tips which will keep you safe from threat actors this Black Friday and Cyber Monday:
Cyber Security Tips For Black Friday and Cyber Monday
1) Be careful while downloading new apps for shopping, coupons, deals etc.
Ensure that you download mobile apps, be it Android or iOS, from the official app stores of the E-commerce retailer. Before you click on the download button, do check the app permissions and other information that is being asked by the application.
Avoid downloading apps from third-party app stores as threat actors make use of the festive season to create fraudulent apps that look as if they are associated with the real brand.
2) Shop online only through trusted sites with a valid SSL certificate
While you search for your favorite product online or check out on a fantastic deal, ensure that you click on those websites whose site addresses begin with 'https' instead of 'http'.
In the case of a regular HTTP connection the data that is sent between your browser & the E-commerce website you are connected to, will be in plain text and therefore can be read by any hacker looking to trick and exploit you. Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) is the secure version of HTTP, where all communications are securely encrypted.
For the implementation of an HTTPS connection, you will need a valid SSL certificate.
3) Enable security alerts for all your financial transactions
There's no such thing as being 100% secure but we can surely give our 100% while being aware and proactive. Like they say 'Prevention is better than cure'. So before you start shopping online, ensure you log on to your net banking and update your profile details while setting up text alerts as well as email alerts for every transaction that you make online.
In doing so you will be alerted in case of fraudulent transactions made through your debit or credit card without your consent.
4) Avoid online shopping using public WiFi networks
Restrict conducting sensitive activities such as making an online payment at ecommerce websites using a public wireless network as they pose a major security threat. These free networks are often a hacker’s paradise due to lack of proactive security.
5) Set up 2-step verification for your online account
In case someone catches hold of your password, a 2-step verification would ensure that they are still unable to log on to your account as an additional code is needed that can only be sent through your mobile phone.
A lot of Ecommerce websites provide the option of setting up an additional 2-step verification. So ensure that you make use of this added security layer.
6) Create unique passwords for your accounts online
Restrict the use of using similar passwords for several accounts instead create unique passwords for multiples websites and ensure that you use a combination of symbols, numbers, and letters while choosing a password. Throw in a mixture of upper and lower case alphabets to make it more strong and unique.
7) Be proactive about protecting your identity and social accounts
Make it a regular affair to keep a track of your financial records and activities of your social accounts for the coming weeks to ensure that there is no unauthorized activity. Also remember to alert your banking officials and even the police if you have any reason to believe that your identity has been compromised.
It's imperative to alert the law enforcement about the threats as soon as they occur as even the banks or insurance companies would require a police report while they conduct their own investigation on those fraudulent transactions.
We hope these 7 cyber security tips for Black Friday and Cyber Monday would help you to have a better shopping experience while keeping you ahead of the security curve. Do let us know in comments if you come across any suspicious or fraudulent activity while browsing through the various holiday deals online.
Stay Safe, Secure & Proactive Always. Happy Thanksgiving to one and all.