Five Black Friday/Cyber Monday IT Security Scams to Be Aware Of
As we prepare our turkeys for Thanksgiving and retail stores of all shapes and sizes prepare their inventory for Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, cyber criminals are preparing their attacks. Your inboxes are likely already flooded with the newest and most popular deals for this holiday season, but while we all prepare to shop til we drop, it is important to practice safe computing practices while you are out-of-office and in the stores.
Here are some popular scams to watch out for this holiday shopping season:
Phishing emails pose one of the biggest threats to shoppers during the holiday season. Cyber criminals may be spoofing retailer emails with blowout deals on the best toys for your family, and one click on a spoofed email could result in malware or a virus installed on your computer. Another email spoof could appear to be from one of your frequently visited retail sites and ask you to enter personal information to either confirm a purchase or verify payment. To avoid handing your sensitive information over to hackers, be sure to check the sender and any links in emails before opening or taking action on any suspicious emails.
Email isn't the only way hackers can spread the season's "hottest deals". Another new scam being used to gather banking and payment information is phishing texts. Your phone will receive a fake text message asking to verify a payment due to irregular activity. The text will provide you with a number to call and secure your account. Once you call this number you will be asked to verify your home address and social security number for identification. Amidst the flurry of your Black Friday or Cyber Monday shopping spree, you could get tripped up and provide a hacker with all of the information that he/she needs to steal your identity, access your financials or worse.
Fake webpages are made to appear exactly like those of a legitimate retailer. When you go to buy from a website, make sure that the web address is legitimate. Before entering personal information, it is also important to check that the browser either has a lock, or the web address stars with ‘https://', which indicates the site is secure.
Be careful about clicking links that appear on your social media accounts. Many ads may look like normal, but malicious links are growing in numbers.
Thieves look for ways to break into insecure Wi-Fi networks to gather personal data. Therefore, it is important to avoid entering personal information over public Wi-Fi networks where data is not usually encrypted. It is safer to use your cell network or hotspot.
Here are some additional quick tips for cyber safety during the holiday shopping season:
Do not click on a link unless it is from a trusted source
Make sure the destination URL is where you were intending to go
Look for a padlock on your browser or 'https://' in the destination web address before entering personal information
Make sure your phone and other devices are password protected
Use unique passwords for every online account
Do not enter personal information over public Wi-Fi networks
Use credit instead of debit when making purchases
Check the 'To', 'From' and 'CC' fields of an email