Are You Ready For Cyber-Monday Madness?

For anyone who has ever risen before dawn on Black Friday only to face the throngs of deal-crazed shoppers, the relaxing appeal of Cyber Monday is an attractive alternative. Unfortunately, hackers have discovered this to be a gold mine for illegal activity, ranging from fake E-bay listings that hide malicious JavaScript, to phishing scams from “trusted brands”.

Cyber Monday sales have soared past $3 Billion over the last few holiday seasons, leaving Christmas shoppers as prime targets. Given this increased potential of cybercrime, here are some ways that shoppers can protect themselves from these attacks:

  • With the rise of phantom sites that mirror legitimate retail web sites to the smallest detail, it is a good idea for online shoppers to manually enter web addresses (URL) within their browser. This small step can eliminate the risk of entering credit card data on a fake retailer page operated by fraudsters.
  • Even though the fraud protection for debit and credit card transactions are technically the same, the best course of action may be to use a credit card for online shopping. Compromised debit cards give hackers direct access to your checking accounts, when compromised, banks may require some significant time to sort out fraudulent charges.  By using a credit card, online shoppers can protect their ability to access cash within their bank accounts.
  • When your shopping emanates from email or social media, be cautious when clicking on links within advertisements. These links may be phishing attempts which ultimately deliver your banking information to hanker’s hands. Always double check the URL before entering your banking information, if in doubt don’t provide your data.
  • Online shoppers should also watch for deals that are too good to be true. One of the draws of online shopping is the ability to find the best price on the goods you seek. However, deals that seem extraordinarily cheap in comparison to other retailers could be sign of something that is too good to be true.  Thus, use extra caution and some homespun investigatory skills before completing those purchases.
  • Hackers love email. We know this because email remains the most significant gateway used to compromise your data.  Thus, be aware of fake notifications that often look like FedEx deliver notices or PayPal advisories.  If you don’t regularly use these services, chances are good that notifications like these are phishing attempts.

All of us probably have that one friend or family member who refuses to shop online, but with a drop of common sense and a knowledge of what to watch out for, shopping online is perfectly safe.  The best piece of advice is to simply slow down and think before you click.