Cyber Monday will be here in just a few days. Cyber Monday is the online retailers’ equivalent of Black Friday. There are many good deals to be found on Cyber Monday, but it can also be a very dangerous day on the internet. Here are some cybersecurity tips to stay safe while shopping online on Cyber Monday:
DO NOT SHOP while connected to public WiFi
If you want to browse for items while you are on public WiFi that’s ok, but DO NOT SHOP while you are connected to public WiFi. In order to buy something you usually have to do one of two things, either login with your username and password to use saved payment information, or enter payment information like a credit card. When you are on public WiFi (at a coffee shop, gym, or hotel, etc.) there is a potential that the information you enter while on public WiFi could be seen by a cyber-criminal. You should never consider the information you are sending over the internet to be safe when you are using public WiFi, even if you are accessing a secure (https) website. To purchase items, turn WiFi off and use the data services on your mobile device or use your mobile device as a hotspot (with a VERY secure password) for your laptop.
Use caution when shopping on a mobile device
Even if you are not using public WiFi and you are using your data plan, you still need to be extra careful if you are going to shop using a mobile browser. A mobile browser has a much shorter address bar, which means you might not be able to see the full website address on your phone. Cyber-criminals can create fake websites that look like the ones of real online retailers to trick users, and it is very hard to tell sometimes when using a mobile browser if you are on a legitimate site or not. To avoid this, install the online retailers’ mobile apps from an official app store like Google Play or the Apple App Store.
Use secure websites ONLY to shop
After making sure you are following the first two steps, next you need to make sure that any website you are shopping on is secure. This means that the beginning of the website address should be HTTPS (notice the S at the end) not HTTP. If you are browsing for items and the site is HTTP, that is ok, but under no circumstances should you enter any personal information (login, password, payment info, etc.) if the site you are using is not HTTPS. This applies to websites only and does not apply to apps you download. The apps have appropriate security for the transmittal of your private information built into them.
Avoid the temptation to click on links in email
You should never click on links in emails, but it can be particularly tempting to do so when you see that TV you have always wanted is selling for 50% less on Cyber Monday. Cyber-criminals will prey on your desire to find a great deal, and will create phishing emails that look like they are from a legitimate online retailer with a “special offer.” The link can then lead you to a harmful website that aims to try and get your personal information for malicious reasons. Be vigilant and remember the old saying, “if it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t.”
Kyber Security wishes all of you a very successful and SAFE Cyber Monday!