The holiday season is coming up and we expect that many will opt to shop online to avoid the big crowds in city centers, malls and stores.
In America, Cyber Monday, the cyber version of shopping day Black Friday, was born in the mid 2000s. Cyber Monday sales have steadily increased since its inception and according to IBM Digital Analytics, sales grew 8.5% in 2014. According to ComScore, purchases are now also being made from smartphones with overall spending from mobile devices in the millions.
Americans aren’t the only ones who have embraced Cyber Monday, many other retailers around the world have come together to offer deals on the Monday after U.S. Thanksgiving and in China, Singles’ Day (November 11th) has become a major ecommerce day with 27,000 online merchants participating in 2014.
This is not only an exciting time for online retailers and online shoppers but also for cyber criminals. I spoke with our senior malware analyst, Jaromír Ho?ejší about how cybercriminals are preparing for Cyber Monday:
Cybercriminals will use the same tactics they always do, but target consumers more during Black Friday with “special” offers via fake email campaigns to trick people into shopping on fraudulent sites to steal their information and money.
It is, therefore, vital you have antivirus installed on all of your devices. Antivirus software, like Avast, will detect and block phishing attacks before they can affect consumers.
Consumers should also make sure all of the software on their devices is up-to-date. Attackers often exploit vulnerabilities, which can be found in outdated software and by exploiting outdated software they can infect your device to then steal your financial information while you shop online.
In addition, consumers should shop at online stores that are known and credible. Credible sites usually use the HTTPS protocol, assuring secure communication. You can recognize if a site is using the HTTPS protocol by the little padlock in the address bar of your browser. If you are on a check out page and you don’t see the HTTPS padlock, do not enter your personal data and financial information!
How to minimize risks while shopping online
- Use a payment service or your credit card – Experts agree that payment services like PayPal are safe because of their security practices and the encryption technology they use. Link it to a credit card so you get your credit card’s fraud protections in addition to PayPal’s. If you only use a credit card, designate one card for online purchases so if something unusual happens, you don’t have to track down all your other cards.
- Keep a paper trail – Once you place your order, print or save records of the transaction. Check your credit card statement to make sure transactions match and there were no unauthorized charges.
- Avoid shopping while using public Wi-Fi – Unsecure public Wi-Fi hotspots do not give you any protection from hackers who want to monitor what you are doing online. It’s not difficult for someone to intercept and modify communications between you and another site. If you have to do it, then use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) so your communications will be encrypted.
- Use a secure browser – the new premium versions of Avast 2016 include SafeZone browser, which isolates banking and payment sites in a protected space, so users have an extra secure place to bank and pay bills online.