Five ways to avoid cyber scams on Black Friday

With Black Friday just around the corner, you’re probably thinking about heading to your favourite shop and hunting for the latest discounts. With over 80% of consumers planning to shop online this year, you’ll most likely be browsing from the comfort of your own home.

Unfortunately, with cyberattacks on the rise worldwide, Black Friday offers the perfect opportunity for hackers to target unaware shoppers. From phishing emails to fake retail websites, hackers can use a number of techniques to gain access to your personal information online.

So how can you avoid cyber scams when you’re shopping online this year? Here are five simple steps below:

  1. Use strong passwords

While it may be convenient to use the same password for all your online shopping accounts, this can make it easy for hackers to access your personal information. Therefore, it’s important to consider varying passwords between your accounts, and using a combination of letters, numbers and special characters. Using a password manager to automatically generate and remember secure passwords can make this easier to manage if you have lots of accounts on the go.

  1. Only shop on secure sites

You should also make sure that the site you’re shopping on is secure. This might mean sticking to retailers you know and trust. This is not to say that you should avoid smaller or lesser-known outlets, but make sure that the site you’re shopping on is legitimate. This can be done by checking whether the site has ‘HTTP’ at the start of its URL, which is usually indicated by a padlock symbol in the browser’s address bar.

  1. Use a private WiFi network

While it may be tempting to quickly order something from your phone in a café or at the train station, public WiFi connections don’t always encrypt online activity. Therefore, using a private WiFi network can also give greater protection when shopping online. If you have to use public WiFi, consider using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to secure your browsing history while you shop.

  1. Avoid phishing emails

You should also be cautious about opening emails offering big discounts or special offers. If you’re unsure whether an email has come from a legitimate site, look for spelling errors, ‘urgent’ messages and instructions to open links or attachments. You can also check whether the site is genuine by opening it in a separate browser and seeing if the same offer is being advertised there.

  1. Update your security software

Lastly, you should make sure that you’re running the latest version of security software across your Windows, macOS and internet browsers. This is because old software can sometimes contain vulnerabilities that are easy for hackers to exploit. While you would have most likely been reminded of any necessary security updates, it’s worth checking to be on the safe side.

Interested in finding out more about how to protect yourself online while making the most of Black Friday bargains? Why not check out some of our other posts on the topic: