Cyber criminals will be looking to exploit shoppers during these sales, with bargain hunters lowering their guards during the rush to bag the best deals.
We outline the necessary steps to protect yourself and your family during two of the biggest shopping days of the year.
Many outlets will run promotional offers to encourage spending during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday period. With shoppers likely to be less vigilant as they rush to snap up a bargain, cyber criminals will look to take advantage of the vast amount of transactions taking place, and the financial information being shared as a result.
With an increase in the number of promotional emails, as retailers compete to promote their deals to their customer base, it potentially makes it more difficult for you to be able to differentiate which emails are genuine – presenting a heightened risk of phishing attacks.
There are currently millions of passwords and emails for sale on the dark web (for very little money), which have been stolen from companies that have not sufficiently protected their customer’s personal data. Not only does this mean cyber criminals can access these people’s emails, they will also look for social media accounts and online high street accounts and test email/password combinations to gain access.
From this, they can gather more personal data until they have enough to conduct identity theft, which could result in credit being taken out in your name or using your saved payment cards to make online purchases.
Therefore, one of the first things you can do to protect yourself, and make yourself safer online, is to change your passwords – right away! While this may seem like a hassle, it is the single greatest defence you can make to protect against a cyber attack.
It is a good idea to understand whether your data has been breached so you can put in place other necessary measures to protect yourself. Have I Been Pwned offer a free service whereby all you need to do is enter your email address and the site will tell you whether it is associated with a breach and if so, what other data has been stolen. It is even more important that you change your passwords if you discover that your personal data has been breached.
You’ll also need to know whether you have been entered into any spambots, which are essentially bots that send you spam emails. While you may notice some emails are obviously spam, there are many sophisticated ones out there that really do look realistic.
With some retailers only offering ‘one day only’ sales, it’s more likely that you’ll rush into clicking on a link within a spam email in order to secure the deal. As a result, this could execute malware or ransomware on your device.
Unfortunately, the only way to avoid your exposure to spam is by changing your email address, which is best done by transitioning your email address information on websites over a period of time. Again, while this is an arduous task, it is an effective and vital way to protect your data from being breached.
Finally, it is essential to ensure your anti-virus protection software has been installed, activated with a valid licence and is kept up-to-date. While free anti-virus software is available it may not protect you sufficiently.
We recommend that you purchase a one-year licence and then when it comes to renew, assess which company has moved to the forefront of anti-malware protection. Competition between suppliers to provide the best protection changes each year (as they achieve technology breakthroughs in response to the evolution in cyber threats), so the best thing to do is check reputable tech websites for reviews of the best current anti-virus software.
In addition to anti-malware, it is also critical to install operating system, software and application updates as quickly as possible. Manufacturers release these updates for a reason: to patch, among other things, identified security vulnerabilities. By not updating you are making yourself more vulnerable. A good strategy to manage this is to diarise a specific time each week to conduct updates.
You can view our free webinar on this topic here, where cyber security experts Mike Wills and Charlotte Riley answer those burning cyber-related questions and help you to understand how cyber criminals may seek to target and defraud you, and what you can do to keep yourself and your family safe.