Another holiday season is upon us and Black Friday and Cyber Monday will mean a flurry of online shopping, including from the more legitimate sites like Amazon and some that aren’t so well known.
An estimated 165.8 million people shopped online during that long Thanksgiving Day weekend last year and even more in the days before and afterward. Guess where a good deal of that online shopping will be done from? If you guessed at work, you’re right!
Approximately 53% of employees shop online during work.
A majority of people do their online holiday shopping from their place of employment, which can put their company’s network security at risk if they’re not careful. Even great employees that wait until their lunch break to shop from their smartphone, could get tricked into clicking on a malicious ad that promises a great sale but ends up doing a drive-by download of malware, infecting the entire network.
Most employers understand the type of online activity the holidays can bring, and that holiday surfing and shopping is inevitably going to happen on their network. Managed IT security services can be an excellent safeguard against any online threats during this season and year-round.
As a caring employer, there are also some safety tips you can give your team to help them protect themselves (and you) while shopping online this holiday season.
Tips to Help You Stay Safe Shopping Online
Ecommerce spending is projected to rise by 13.2% this holiday season, so now’s the time to review these cybersafe holiday shopping tips to help prevent identity theft, data breaches, and more.
Shop Only Secure Sites (https://)
You don’t want to enter your payment card number on any site that doesn’t use an SSL certificate, which ensures the traffic is properly encrypted. Secure sites with SSL will show a padlock to the far left in the URL address bar and will start with “https://” instead of “http//”. Don’t shop with any site that doesn’t have this safeguard.
Check Out Business Reviews Before You Buy
You saw the perfect present for your co-worker and it’s not on any of the major retailer sites. Before you trust an unknown seller, be sure to check them out thoroughly. Use resources like the Better Business Bureau and online review sites like Trustpilot.
You might find out the seller has a reputation for sending products that don’t match the website photo or of not shipping orders at all. Be very suspicious and do a thorough vetting before entrusting someone with your credit card.
Go Directly to a Retailer Site Instead of Clicking an Ad
One way that hackers can get unsuspecting shoppers to download a virus or malware is through use of popup sale banners. They may promise incredible deals and appear to be from a legitimate company, but this is the popup ad form of phishing emails, designed to get you to click before you think.
Instead of clicking through an ad from a website or social media platform, go directly to the retailer’s website via their URL. If they’re legitimate, they’ll also be advertising that same enticing sale on their webpages.
Don’t Shop on an Unsecure Wi-Fi
It might seem innocent enough to do some quick shopping on your mobile device while you’re grabbing an afternoon coffee at Starbucks, and you might not even realize your phone has connected to their free Wi-Fi. It’s better to wait until you’re on a completely secure network, especially this time of year when hackers are just lying in wait.
Use PayPal for Payments
The protection of using PayPal for shopping online is that you’re not giving the retailer your credit or debit card number and PayPal has additional buyer protections to help protect you from getting scammed. While not all websites allow use of PayPal during checkout, many of them do, so use it whenever you can.
Watch Out for Fake Shipment Emails
The phishing scammers know that this time of year people are receiving a bunch of shipping notifications in their inboxes related to holiday shopping and they take advantage of this to send fake UPS or FedEx shipping notification emails.
Make sure you always hover over links before you click them to see the true URL, and check the message header, which will also often reveal a fake. The safest way to handle fake shipping emails is to go to the retailer’s site directly to check tracking rather than from an email link.
Use Good Password Best Practices
You’re just shopping this one site for a special item, and you probably won’t be back until next year, but they still want you to create an account with a password. Don’t let your guard down and use something easy. Retailer databases are often hacked and if you’ve reused one login password over several sites, that means multiple accounts could be at risk from a single breach.
Good password practices include:
- Using long passwords (at least 7-10 characters long)
- Using a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols
- Not repeating passwords across several logins
You might want to just go ahead and treat yourself to a password management application this season, which helps you keep track of strong, unique passwords for all your logins.
Is Your Network Prepared for Online Holiday Traffic?
Strong network security can help block phishing emails and any malware trying to download from a malicious website. Is your network ready? If you’re not sure, Connect2Geek can help make sure you are with a free network security consultation.
Schedule yours today by calling 208-468-4323 or contacting us online.