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Stay Safe This Black Friday – How to Shop Securely During the Sales

2 November 2023

With the festive season on the horizon, the anticipation of Black Friday, scheduled for November 24th, is building. It’s the most awaited shopping extravaganza for many, a day filled with bargains galore. Last year, the UK’s spending soared to a whopping £8.71 billion during Black Friday, with £4.81 billion funnelled online.

Predictions hint at even loftier numbers this year. And while this digital boom is a testament to the seamless world of online shopping, it’s also an open invitation for sly cybercriminals. Black Friday becomes their prime hunting ground, capitalising on the sheer volume of transactions and the treasure trove of financial data shared.

That means in this digital age, your worry isn’t just about finding the best deals anymore; it’s about protecting your online presence. So, how can you keep your data and hard-earned money safe? Keep reading to learn how you can navigate the Black Friday sales without becoming a cyberattack victim.

Beware of Impersonation Sites

Cybercriminals are crafty, designing websites that eerily mimic your favourite retailers. These decoys can be nearly indistinguishable from the real deal and are designed to harvest your personal and financial information. Before purchasing, always double-check the website’s URL for subtle misspellings or unusual domain extensions.

Instead of clicking on promotional links, consider manually typing the retailer’s official web address into your browser. This simple step ensures you’re on the authentic site, safeguarding your data and hard-earned money from sneaky online predators.

Stay Clear of Phishing Emails

As Black Friday approaches, your inbox might overflow with enticing deals and exclusive offers. Among these might be cunning phishing emails crafted to look genuine. Cybercriminals send these deceptive emails to lure you into clicking malicious links or downloading harmful attachments.

Falling for their trap could compromise your personal and financial information. Always scrutinise such emails, especially if they urge immediate action or offer deals that seem too good to be true. Instead of clicking links within the email, visit the retailer’s site directly.

Opt for Secure Checkouts

As you fill your virtual cart this Black Friday, the checkout process deserves your utmost attention. Not all checkout platforms are created equal. To protect your financial data, ensure you transact on a secure platform.

Start by checking the URL—it should begin with ‘https://’, where the ‘s’ stands for secure. A padlock icon in the browser’s address bar also indicates a protected connection. Avoid making purchases on sites missing these vital signs to shield yourself from potential cyber threats.

Diversify Your Login Details

Using the same password across multiple platforms or accounts is like having a single key for all your valuables; if lost, everything’s at risk. Diversifying your login details ensures that a breach on one site doesn’t make you vulnerable everywhere. It reduces the risk of credential stuffing, which occurs when cybercriminals use stolen usernames and passwords from one breach to gain unauthorised access to multiple other accounts.

Invest in strong, unique passwords for each account. If managing multiple passwords feels overwhelming, consider a reputable password manager to help you keep track, ensuring each login remains distinctive and secure.

Check Bank Statements Regularly

In the flurry of Black Friday deals, every purchase might seem like a win. But while you’re revelling in discounts, keep an eye on your bank statements. Cyber threats can manifest as unrecognised or unauthorised transactions.

When you regularly review your statements, you can promptly spot any discrepancies. Take immediate action if something looks amiss, like a charge you don’t recall or a merchant you’ve never visited. Alert your bank, flag the transaction, and change passwords if necessary.

Keep Your Anti-virus Measures Updated

Navigating the vast ocean of Black Friday deals, your computer or mobile device is your trusted vessel. However, your devices require up-to-date anti-virus measures to thwart cyber threats. Hackers are constantly refining their methods, and outdated software might leave you vulnerable.

Regularly updating your anti-virus tools ensures you’re armed with the latest defences against malware, spyware, and other online menaces. Think of these updates as essential armour in the digital battleground. Before diving into the shopping frenzy, take a moment to fortify your device.

Avoid Public Wi-Fi for Shopping

Imagine shopping in an open market where anyone could peek into your cart and pocketbook. That’s what using public Wi-Fi for shopping can be like. Although the allure of free Wi-Fi in cafes or malls is tempting, especially during the Black Friday rush, it’s often unsecured.

This makes it a playground for hackers keen on intercepting your data or transactions. If you plan to snag those deals, ensure you’re on a secure, private network. If you must use public Wi-Fi, consider a VPN to encrypt your data.

Use a Credit Card Over Debit

Opting for a credit card over debit isn’t just about financial flexibility; it’s a strategic move for added security. Credit cards often offer enhanced fraud protection. Credit cards provide a buffer if a rogue transaction occurs, ensuring your actual money isn’t immediately depleted.

Furthermore, if a scammer gets hold of your details, credit card companies typically have protective measures that cap your liability, ensuring you aren’t held fully responsible for unauthorised charges. On the other hand, with debit cards, your real money is immediately at stake, and a breach can lead to immediate deductions, causing potential financial chaos.

Shop Securely This Black Friday

Navigating Black Friday this year demands vigilance, savvy choices, and an informed approach. Amidst the glittering offers, there are lurking shadows of cyber threats.

But, equipped with knowledge on how to shop safely, you’re more than ready. Heeding these tips ensures you don’t just shop smart — you shop securely. As you gear up for the grand shopping weekend, remember: the best Black Friday victories aren’t just about snagging bargains but also about safeguarding your digital footprints.

Here at ICT Solutions, we offer cyber security services to help businesses across the UK defend themselves from the evolving threats that cyber attacks can pose. From ransomware detection to firewalls, password management to real-time monitoring; our cyber security service covers all eventualities.

If you’d like to speak to our experienced team about how we can help keep you and your business safe, get in touch today on 0151 230 2424.