This year, during numerous holidays, there have been hacks and breaches in major companies. Hackers leveraged holidays such as the fourth of July and Labor Day to target companies and attack them.
In fact, it is pretty common for hackers to target the holidays because that’s when everyone is caught off-guard. Companies have very few employees working or no employees working at all. But, on the other hand, customers are so engrossed in their celebrations or their desire to catch the sale that they forget the security aspect of things.
So this Black Friday, I’ll be sharing a few simple tips you can use to shop online safely and securely. This way, you can get the deal of a lifetime instead of regretting mistakes that you might remember for a lifetime.
Here are the best practices to be followed while shopping online, chasing discounts, and Black Friday Sales.
Shop Only On Familiar Websites
Stick to the usual ones, like your BestBuy, Walmart, Amazon, Target, etc. I know that discounts and offers during Black Sale can be quite tempting, but resist those urges. To save a few extra bucks, you might end up losing all your savings from the bank accounts.
“Get flat 90% off on all products right from apparel to mobile accessories, only bit.ly/blackfridaysale.com”
Usually, these are the kind of messages you’ll receive in your inbox or SMS or maybe even Insta and WhatsApp. Steer clear of them, and don’t get too greedy. Typically these are known as phishing websites or messages or emails that bait you into going to the link mentioned.
However, by simply clicking on these links, you can give access to the hackers who can breach your system and access information that you don’t want to. These can include important passwords, details about a bank account, etc.
With the holiday season approaching, essential you’d be shopping for gifts and prepping for the festivities. But, while you’re busy doing so, keep an eye on your bank statements and track your expenses. You never know how hackers can get into your accounts and steal your money.
So keep a record of the expenses as and when they occur, and ensure that it all tallies up without any discrepancies.
Perhaps change your passwords for all important accounts and create strong, distinct ones. Hackers might constantly be trying to get into your accounts without your knowledge, and you don’t want to make it easy for them to do so.
Hence, strong passwords are simply one solution. Another thing you can do along with that is deploying two-factor authentication so that at any point, approval from two ends is required before anyone enters your account. Be it you, your friends/family, or anyone else.
The lock icon is usually next to the website’s address, and it is succeeded with an “HTTPS” instead of merely “HTTP.” This means that the website has a Secure Socket Layer (SSL), i.e., it is encrypted.
These websites are more secure than the regular ones, and most websites make it a point to install encryption on their website. In fact, even Google warns users when they enter a website without the lock icon or the ‘S’ in the ‘HTTPS.’
So, look for these two aspects since, more often than not, these sites will be reliable, and you’re better off accessing these instead of others.
Public networks such as the internet in your neighboring cafe or library are a big no when it comes to making online purchases. Instead, you might just be scrolling through your favorite set of accessories you’ve wanted for so long and might even purchase it immediately.
After all, later, the deal might expire, or the items will go out of stock. However, remember that these networks are not secure and are pretty vulnerable to hacks. Cybercriminals can easily access these networks, intercept your information which is supposed to be private, and access your account details.
I know this sounds like a secret spy or special agent stuff, but it’s pretty basic and necessary. You’re going to websites that are flagged off by Google, but they might be legit too. So do your background check on these websites and check the seller.
See if they’re a legit shopping website by looking for their social media handles and other online presences such as LinkedIn. This shows how authentic a website is, directly related to how safe it is to buy from these websites.
Treat your email ID and other personal information such as date of birth as secrets you’ll take to your grave during this season. Do not share all these details on websites, especially if they don’t have the lock icon or seem too good to be true.
Hackers and cybercriminals can leverage this information to their advantage, and that’s the last thing you want. So, keep these to yourself unless it is absolutely necessary and only when the website is legit.
These are some of the common practices you can follow to stay safe during the season of epic sales, offers, and discounts. At the end of the day, it is simply about staying alert and keeping your systems secure. So be cautious this Black Friday!