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Cyber Monday is the Monday that follows Thanksgiving in the USA. This is said to be the busiest online shopping day of the year. Does that mean that there is more risk of cybercrime? The answer is yes and no. There is more risk simply because more people are shopping online so malicious web pages, fake holiday specials, and other attractions are bound to get more traffic.
In reviewing our threat statistics for the past couple of years what we discovered was that we do not see an increase in the number of threats, so as an individual your risk is pretty close to the same as any other time of year, but that means there is some risk and there are steps you can take to minimize your chances of becoming a victim of cybercrime. Here are a few tips to consider.
1) Beware of the unsolicited emails for promotions that seem too good to be true. Things like “We’ll give you a free copy of Windows 7 for filling out this survey”, or “Get $100 for filling out this survey”. Often times these are ploys to get your credit card information and other personal information. It may be for the purpose of sending you spam or it may be for financial or identity theft.
2) Watch out for anything related to banks, PayPal, and other online financial providers. NEVER click on a link in an email having to do with financial institutions. For some really simple tips on protecting yourself from phishing see my “Antiphishing Made Easy” tip on the San Diego Chamber of Commerce web site at http://www.sdchamber-members.org/TechTip.htm.
3) Shop at reputable websites. Do not believe things like a BBB logo, check with the Better Business Bureau to see that they say the company is a member. It’s best if you know somebody who has done business with the company before. Crooks will post fake positive reviews of their web sites
4) When you go to enter payment information, make sure the address in the browser starts with https, and not just http. Https encrypts the information, such as your credit card number. It isn’t enough to see the https, the bad guys can use that too, but you want to use a reputable site and verify they are encrypting your data.
5) You might want to consider getting a credit card with a low spending limit and using that exclusively when you shop online… especially if you can’t resist that offer that is too good to be true!
6) Do not click on the links in emails. If you want to shop at Fry’s online, type in www.frys.com and find the item you are looking for.
Following these tips will greatly improve your odds of safely shopping on line on Cyber Monday and every other day of the year.
If you believe that you have become a victim of a phishing attack, contact your bank immediately.
Director of Technical Education
Author ESET Research, ESET