Each year, Black Friday and Cyber Monday account for a whirlwind of online sales. Our CTO Corey Nachreiner joined Q13 FOX live on air this morning to discuss tips for protecting personal information when purchasing holiday gifts online.
Here are some of Corey’s tips for online shopping this holiday season:
- Beware of email deal scams. If you see a deal that seems too good to be true, it probably is. Stick with trusted, well-known online retailers. If you must try a new site, at least do some research using tools like the Better Business Bureau. Avoid popups or things offering a free download. There’s a 300 percent increase in phishing emails around Black Friday and Cyber Monday, so be wary of any emails that ask you for a lot of personal information. Type in URLS instead of clicking links, and pay attention to the URL you do visit – if it doesn’t match the site you want to visit exactly, stop immediately!
- Look for the green lock in your browser next to the URL when shopping. This means the site encrypts its traffic using HTTPS, a secure protocol. This makes it much more difficult for a hacker to steal your information from the website. Don’t share any payment information unless you see you’re on a secure website.
- Use two-factor authentication on popular sites. Two-factor authentication means that a site requires two methods to verify your identity before allowing you to log on. Usually this is entering a password and then a code texted to a mobile device or hitting a button within an app. This helps to prevent hackers from using stolen login credentials to impersonate people. Amazon and many other big online retailers now offer two-factor authentication, so you should use it wherever possible.
- Online payment tips. Use digital wallets like PayPal and Apple Pay whenever possible. They keep your actual credit card details out of the retailer’s system. If you can’t use a digital wallet, use credit cards, NEVER debit cards. Credit card companies offer protection from fraud and services to help you if your account is compromised. If someone gets access to your bank account through a debit card, you’re in more trouble. With new chip & pin cards, you may now receive text or email updates about “card-not-present” transactions, whenever you purchase things online. These are normal and good. However, be sure to validate these messages to confirm they relate to purchases you really did make yourself.
- Armor up your system before weathering the online storm. Check to make sure that all your software is up to date. Be sure to have firewall and antivirus services current and active.
- Don’t shop on someone else’s Wi-Fi. Never make online transactions when connected to someone else’s Wi-Fi network – especially not open networks like the free Wi-Fi provided at Starbucks or your local coffee shop. If you’re out and about, shopping from your mobile device, be sure to use your cellular connection instead of public Wi-Fi.
- Be aware of “Malvertising” this holiday season. Be cautious whenever clicking through online ads. Bad actors are using legitimate online advertising services to hide malware in legitimate looking ads on legitimate websites.
Although we usually think of the security risks associated with online shopping as something that only consumers should worry about, Cyber Monday actually has security implications for businesses as well. According to a CareerBuilder survey over half of all workers will do some online shopping at work on Cyber Monday, so business need to do something to not only protect their employees from cyber scams, but also to protect their businesses from any malware or attacks their employees’ shopping might introduce into their systems. Here are a few Cyber Monday security tips for businesses to keep in mind next week and throughout the holiday season:
- Businesses should invest in complete security solutions (like the Unified Threat Management solutions), which provide many security services that can protect their network and employees from different types of attacks.
- Many of these security solutions offer web filtering features. If you don’t want your employees doing their Cyber Monday shopping from work, you can simply use these features to prevent access to shopping sites.
- If you want to be flexible enough to allow shopping at work, while still protecting your employees, use solutions that also provide web security features that will keep your employees away from malicious sites and keep malware out of your network. You may not be able to stop employees from accidentally giving their social security number away to someone they shouldn’t, but you can keep them from accidentally installing malware on corporate systems.