online shopping cybersecurity dangers black friday

Image via Adobe Stock

Black Friday and the dangers of online shopping

Be safe out there!

online shopping cybersecurity dangers black friday

Image via Adobe Stock

Those of us who prefer online shopping during this Black Friday need to be aware of a different set of dangers. We might not get COVID-19, but other dangers lurk out there in the deep, dark web.

We are but one day away from the biggest shopping event of the year: Black Friday and Cyber Monday. While Black Friday may be an established tradition for many, it’s bound to go down differently this year.

That said, many shoppers would probably be heading out to brick-and-mortar buildings on 27 November. If you do, don’t forget to wear your mask and adhere to social distancing protocols.

What is Black Friday and Cyber Monday?

To recap, Black Friday originated in the United States and is regarded as the start of the Christmas shopping season; it follows one day after Thanksgiving.

The term Black Friday has been around since the late 1960s and refers to the black ink used by stores and corporations to record profits, while losses were recorded in red ink.

Cyber Monday is the day reserved for shopping online and is considered as the online equivalent of Black Friday.

The dangers of online shopping

The world of online shopping can be vast and scary. There are a million different ways for scammers to take advantage our of ignorance and con us out of our hard-earned cash.

It’s easy for consumers to lose control and become irresponsible, especially during the Black Friday period, when we’re all eager to get our hands on the best deals, as quick as possible.

Be responsible with your data at all times; scammers are coming up with more flexible and innovative ways to steal your data or your hard-earned cash. Beware of these dangers.

Dodgy websites

Always consider the trustworthiness of the website and whether the site’s SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificates are in order and confirmed for the website before just entering your banking details.

Apart from displaying the PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) compliance stamp, the site should also have an EV SSL (Extended Validation Secure Sockets Layer) certificate.

Of course, the usual online safety precautions apply. Don’t click on direct links in emails and text messages; don’t share your banking details with strangers (or strange websites).

Steer clear of pop-up ads

You are bound to run into a few of these on Black Friday. While many legitimate companies use pop-up ads and social media sponsored posts, it’s easy enough for a scammer to pose as a legitimate retailer.

Instead of purchasing an item directly from the pop-up ad or sponsored post, head out to retailer’s website on your own. Make sure the site adheres to the protocols as mentioned in the previous point.

Beware of phishing email scams

According to Avast, the most prevalent phishing scams occur via email. If you receive an email about deals which seems too good to be true, it most probably is too good to be true.

Warning lights should go off if the email calls on you to clink a link or download an attachment; it could potentially be malware. Luis Corrons, an experienced global security advisor at Avast, also warns:

“Another popular scam will see an email that asks people to sign up with their personal information, or even lead you to a fake website to get you to complete an actual payment to receive the deal. You should always look to exercise caution online”.

Additional online shopping security layers

You could use trusted third-party payment services as well. These include Google Pay, Apple Pay, PayPal, Payoneer or other virtual payment services to provide an additional layer of security while shopping online.

Using a VPN is also suggested. The encrypted connection would mask your IP address, which in turn prevents scammers from seeing your personal information, such as login and banking details.

If you plan on paying via Instant EFT, read this first.