Cyber Monday Security & Safety Tips

The weekend after Thanksgiving marks the massive start of the holiday shopping season. However, it has also become the time when hackers come out to play, creating mischief and mayhem for unsuspecting computer users and online shoppers.

The term “Cyber Monday” refers to the Monday immediately following Black Friday, the ceremonial kick-off of the holiday online shopping season in the United States between Thanksgiving Day and Christmas. Whereas Black Friday is associated with traditional brick-and-mortar stores, “Cyber Monday” symbolizes a busy day for online retailers.

The premise was that consumers would return to their offices after the Black Friday weekend, making purchases online that they were not able to make in stores. Although that idea has not survived the test of time, Cyber Monday has evolved into a significant marketing event, sponsored by the National Retail Federation’s Shop.org division, in which online retailers offer low prices and promotions.

This year “Cyber Monday” will fall on December 1, 2014 and here are 6 safety tips to help you stay safe:

  1. Don’t Click on Pop-up Ads – malicious pop-up ads still pose one of the largest threats to web shoppers. Be mindful of what pop-ups say, it could be evidence of a security threat.
  1. Keep Software Up-To-Date – Make sure your system is online ready by having the latest updated anti-virus, anti-malware installed on your PC. In addition, make sure your firewall is on too. Try to shop at home on your personal computer. Shopping on computers shared by other or a public system may have malicious software to monitor your input.
  1. Use a Secure Connection – all online financial transactions take place through a secure, private Wi-Fi connection, as opposed to using the more vulnerable free Wi-Fi in a coffee shop or library.
  1. Avoid Email Advertisements – Your inbox is likely swarming with holiday promotions from all of your favorite (and likely least favorite) brands. To avoid being hacked, the CIS recommends you always enter the shop’s URL in your browser, rather than following the links contained in an email.
  1. Shop at Companies You Know – Know the website you are purchasing from. Many users will conduct a search for a product, and may end up on shady looking sites. Try to stick with the notable names. A good way to check up on a merchant is to get information through the Better Business Bureau or through comparison-shopping sites such as buysafeshopping.com.
  1. Use Credit, Not Debit – There are more security protections on your credit card that may not exist while using your debit card and check your statements frequently.

Happy and safe shopping everyone!

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