Cyber Safety Tips for Holiday Shoppers

holiday-shopping-online The winter holiday season is upon us.  Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales are here! Eric Morris, head of retail at Google Canada, told CTV news that  e-commerce in Canada has doubled during the pandemic.  With this peak in online shopping, it also means hackers will also be busy schemeing to steal your personal and payment information. Below is a list of tips to stay safe while holiday shopping.
Be Wary of Phishing Attacks It goes without saying to be suspicious of unsolicited email.  In fact, you may want to scrutinize all your email correspondence.  This time of year, inboxes are filled with emails from retailers advertising deals and special offers. Cybercriminals can craft legitimate-looking email messages that could redirect you to spoofed sites, by using bargains or urgent messages to phish for information. To avoid “getting phished” use the following methods:
  • Do not immediately click on links embedded in emails. Bookmark your frequently visited websites or directly type the known URLs or email addresses of the companies’ representatives. You can also use a scam checker to scan questionable email.
  • Call the company or organization via known contact numbers (not the one on the suspicious email) and confirm if they have email requests, or if they have existing promos as advertised in the email. Similarly, beware of calls claiming to be from companies asking for your credentials. There are many scammers out there pretending to be from legitimate organizations trying to trick you into handing over your credit card or banking information. Legitimate organizations such as banks will never ask for your password over the phone or via email.
  • Limit the amount of personal information you share online. This is very important; a scammer can learn a lot about a person via information shared online and use it to claim they know you. Someone could call and say they know your name, hometown, etc. and have it look like a legitimate business has contacted you, and not a scammer. The less information out there about you, the better.
Social Media Scams Social media marketing has become a great sales boost for many businesses.  Social media has become a great tool to advertise products and services.  Customers are also likely to search social media for local businesses to try their products or services, especially when friends give good reviews or recommend them. Cybercriminals have also become very good at spoofing legitimate businesses, and in some cases creating fake companies.  To protect yourself on social media, try the following:
  • Manage the information you share. Be aware of the permissions and information collected by your installed social media apps and visited websites such as your location, email address and contact information.
  • Most retailers have some sort of verifier symbol (such as the blue check marks) to help let shoppers know they are the real deal. Ensure this mark is visible beside the names of brands and retailers before interacting, shopping, or giving information. Most social media platforms now have these to reduce the number of fake pages to help protect consumers from online criminals.
  • Always be wary of clickbait and alarming headlines, shopping promos, and bargain offers. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Mobile apps for shopping Shoppers are relying on their mobile phones more than ever for researching products to buy, to making Purchases.  A statistic referenced by Think with Google says thirty-four percent of online retail purchases now happen on mobile devices. In addition, personally identifiable information (PII), is being stored for faster transactions and easier advertising deployment.  To help stay mobile safe this holiday season:
  • Download online shopping apps from legitimate vendors to ensure secure transactions. Use the Apple App Store, or Google Play Store to download apps.
  • Enable all security features on all your IoT and mobile devices before use.
Online shopping safety While stores are ultimately responsible for protecting their customers’ data, consumers can and should also protect themselves by taking some preventive measures this season.  Below are some general online shopping best practices:
  • Review and learn what you share online. Similar to the point above about phishing, limiting what you share online can go a long way to protecting yourself from hackers. Avoid oversharing information.
  • Ensure you are using improved and compliant payment systems that have more security measures in place. These new technologies have additional layers of protection for both companies and consumers.
  • Make sure you have installed a security solution wherever you do your online shopping. There are many anti-virus and anti-malware programs out there for your computer or mobile devices. This type of security software can sort through and block malicious ads, emails and websites, reducing your risk of malware infection.
  • Ensure you use browsers with updated security features, and regularly install official patches from legitimate vendors.
IOT Connected Devices: Should you give these as gifts? IOT devices come in many varieties, from children’s toys, to smart phones, to connected household appliances.  There can be many benefits associated with having an internet connected device, however some manufacturers have yet to prioritize privacy and security.  It is up to the buyer to decide if the security risks outweigh the potential benefits.  Some things to consider when making the decision to buy an IOT device include:
  • Before deciding to give smart devices as gifts, check what kind of information that it requests from users, how it affects its functions, and how the information is stored and protected. Depending on what permissions the device asks for, it may not be an appropriate gift.
  • If you do decide to buy an IOT enabled toy for a child or teen, use that item as a teaching opportunity. Remind the young recipients of how to use them responsibly. Teach them what it means to play safely when connected to the internet (no oversharing of information).
  • Remember when registering accounts for IOT devices to use strong credentials different from the rest of your online accounts. Always update the firmware and with the latest patches from legitimate vendors and connect to secure networks.
If you enjoyed these tips, but want more information on being cyber safe in your business, contact Uzado today to learn more about our cyber security offerings.

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