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This year’s Black Friday is predicted to be historic. If Deloitte’s analysts are right, more people than ever before will hunt for deals and shop online. It will also be the first time shoppers will spend just as much money in the virtual realm as in bricks and mortar stores.
The same survey estimates that total holiday sales in 2016 will reach as much as $1 trillion, meaning that the millions of transactions also offer millions of opportunities for deceptive cybercriminals. We know from the past that they never miss a chance to leech off of such popular trends.
So if you are getting ready to hunt for online deals, here are a few tips that will help you keep attackers away from your hard earned money.
Not every internet connection is secure enough to be used for online payments. Public Wi-Fi that is available at a Christmas market is not necessarily the best of options for Black Friday shopping. A safer alternative is to access your favorite e-shop via your personal data plan.
Use a trustworthy device – be it your computer, tablet or smartphone – as it is much easier for you to spot any irregularities in its behavior. Also, keep your operating system and software up-to-date, to avoid unpatched vulnerabilities that could potentially be misused. Last but not least, install a reliable security solution with multiple protective layers and ideally one that can also offer protection for your e-banking and online payments.
If you receive a Black Friday (or Cyber Monday) offer that seems too good to be true, there is a good chance it really is. Fake deals delivered to your inbox are common during the end-of-the-year season and are used to lure victims onto fake websites which harvest sensitive information (such as credit card numbers) or login credentials.
To stay away from trouble, access e-shops of your choice by typing the correct URL directly into the browser bar.
If possible, opt for respected and trustworthy brands that offer a secure shopping environment and can help you solve possible issues. But don’t let your guard down even when you see a well-known brand. Fraudsters are can create fake websites that look almost identical to their original counterparts.
To avoid those, keep a watchful eye on the URL. Fakes are easily identifiable as they use different internet addresses than the official pages they are trying to mimic.
Making a purchase online is safer with a credit card or secure online payment service, as this doesn’t involve any of the money you keep in your checking or savings account. And, even in the unfortunate case of a fraudulent transaction, the damage can be partially accounted for by the bank or the service.
Many of the abovementioned points also apply to online banking transactions. For more detailed tips, you can refer to our short guide on How to steer away from online banking trouble?
Author Ondrej Kubovič, ESET