With Black Friday and Cyber Monday quickly approaching, it’s likely you’re considering doing most of your shopping in your pajamas, curled up on a cozy couch. And you’re not alone. According to a recent Forbes article, online shopping is predicted to explode this year. In fact, accounting firm Deloitte predicts e-commerce holiday retail sales will grow “between 25% to 35% from November through January, reaching $182 billion to $196 billion in total.”
Shopping online feels like the safest option this year given the global health crisis, not to mention the whole convenience factor. But, unfortunately, that same safety does not apply to your online data. Hackers are very aware of the increase in e-commerce sales, and they are ready to pounce.
Here are a few ways you can better protect your data as you shop online this holiday season:
- Click wisely. We’re going to see an increase in clickbait ads, especially for hard-to-find products. These ads will offer the product you’ve been searching for, and may seem like a lucky find, but beware. When you click the ad, you may be entering a fraudulent site or you could be infecting your device with malware.
- Be cautious of emails. Most of us have already started receiving a plethora of Black Friday and Cyber Monday emails. And the majority of these emails are legitimate. But, unfortunately, scammers are good at disguising emails to look like they’re from your favorite company, or even a company you’ve never heard of touting a product on your Christmas list. Instead of clicking on an email to go to the website, go to the company’s website directly. Most sales will be front-and-center on their homepage. Doing this ensures you’re not falling victim to making a purchase, and sharing your data, with a fake website.
- Research seller reviews. This applies to sellers on eBay, Facebook Marketplace, Etsy, and beyond. If the price seems too good to be true, that’s usually because it is. Take time to research the seller’s reputation to be sure you’re comfortable making the purchase.
- Steer clear of public Wi-Fi. We could go on and on about this, and we have here, but it’s worth repeating. Never share any sensitive data, specifically financial or personal information, when you’re connected to public Wi-Fi. This is because cybercriminals create rogue Wi-Fi hotspots that mimic the name of the public place (restaurant, hotel, airport, and more), making it seem like you’re safely connected to a real network. Once you connect to their malicious network, they can gain access to your data.
- Choose a payment method with the most protection. This likely means skipping over your debit card, which typically comes with less protection against scams and identity theft than your credit card.
By following these tips, you are more likely to enter the new year scam-free. If you have questions about any of the tips above, or about cybersecurity best practices in general, contact us.