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Best Tips for Safe Online Shopping During Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2021

· Cyber Security

Best Tips for Safe Online Shopping During Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2021

2021 was a banner year for cybercriminals as the last 12 months saw new strains of malware and ransomware appear in the cybersphere, as well as the rise of state-sponsored hacking groups known as Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) that wreaked havoc globally.

Although billions in ransoms were paid in 2021, most internet users could have easily avoided victimization if they followed some basic personal security protocols and more carefully monitored emails and attachments before opening them, among other strategies. 

With that in mind, and as we enter the 2021 Holiday Shopping Season, here are the best tips for safe online shopping during Black Friday and Cyber Monday:

Avoid Phony Online Vendors

With the rise in online shopping, particularly in the wake of the global Coronavirus Pandemic of 2020-2021, cybercriminals have taken to creating sites that look identical to many of the popular and reputable sites that many consumers use to purchase goods. One way of Identifying these phony sites is the fact that in many cases there is a slight misspelling in the name of the site, so be wary of the URL addresses you are visiting. If you find a product on a site that you have never heard of, you can check how long the domain has been registered by entering it on whois.icann.org and typing in the website URL.

Don’t Shop While on Public Wi-Fi

This one seems like a no-brainer, but many people have become far too comfortable with going to their favorite coffee shop or restaurant and logging onto the free available Wi-Fi and then proceeding to do everything from checking emails to conducting financial transactions. This danger is particularly prevalent during the Christmas shopping season. Say you go to a store to pick up a discounted TV or other household appliance and find that your regional location has run out. Many holiday specials are also being offered online and this may compel a consumer to quickly attempt to make an order from their phone. Since many wireless carriers have data limits, this may motivate the shopper to log onto the store or malls free Wi-Fi to and order their item. Public Wi-Fi connections are often the target of hackers who can easily infiltrate the signal and begin collecting your payment information. 

Remember to Sign Out When Using Public Devices

Many times, individuals who may not have access to their own phones, tablets or PC’s may find themselves using a public computer in a library or internet café. This is usually fine for basic research or for printing a non-confidential document, but if you are going online to shop and using credit card or banking info to pay for your merchandise, it is imperative that you immediately logout of the device or better yet, avoid using any device that is not exclusive yours to shop. This tip also applies to using a friend or family member's internet device as well. You can never be too safe with your personal banking information.

Beware of Phishing Schemes

Nowadays, most people are constantly bombarded with unsolicited texts and emails offering all kinds of products and services. For the most part, they may be benign, although a bit annoying. But in the mix of offers related to everything from vehicle services to pet grooming, you may see some offers ridiculously too good to be true offers for products and services. 

In many cases, these offers could be part of a phishing scheme. The hackers have designed the landing pages for these products to look like legitimate online vendors, and from there, they can easily draw out your personal financial data and use it to go on a holiday shopping spree of their own! Additionally, the landing pages may secretly download a browser hijacker onto your computer that has the ability to cause a series of redirects to questionable content that may result in the device downloading viruses, malware, ransomware, or other Potentially Unwanted Programs (PUPs).

Use a Credit Card Instead of a Debit Card When Shopping Online

Credit Cards tend to offer more security options than a regular bank debit card should your information be compromised. With a credit card, you are using the bank's money, and not the funds you are depending on for day-to-day expenses, so if you do have fraud committed against you, it will have less of an adverse effect on your life. Furthermore, once the credit card’s fraud department investigates, you should not be held liable for the illicit transactions. 

The holiday season tends to be stressful, but by following these easy to remember tips, you can concentrate on holiday parties, family, and most of all, some well-deserved end of year rest and relaxation!

Written by Julio Rivera

Julio is a business and political strategist, the Editorial Director for Reactionary Times, and a political commentator and columnist. Julio’s writing focuses on cybersecurity and politics. Websites including Newsmax, Townhall, American Thinker and BizPacReview have published Julio’s work.

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