Cyber Monday, that time of year when online shoppers can find once-a-year bargains on the internet. Unfortunately, online hackers have devised many heinous methods for cybercrime to trick innocent online shoppers, and the holidays in particular are a time to beware. Check out 6 ways you can avoid spammy pop-ups, illegitimate links, malware, social media scams, and other cyber shopping trouble.
Install Email Spam Protection & Anti-Malware Software
Even if you’ve already established cyber security in the past, go ahead and run any updates on your firewall, AV, and all other programs. Before you shop, update your computer, especially your OS and browser. Put an end to any potential for cybercrime by installing anti-malware software. Only then shop to your heart’s content!
Don’t Shop Using Public Wifi
Avoid entering in personal information, passwords, or debit card information when you’re using public wifi. Cyber criminals can easily hack a public wifi to see exactly what you’re doing, which site you’re browsing, and your search history. If you plan on taking advantage of those Cyber Monday Sales, stay at home and use our own secure network.
To make sure your network is secure, look at the URL and make sure it begins with “https,” not “http.” When you’re about to check out, look for a little padlock to the left of the URL; if it’s there, that proves that any information you type into the site is kept private.
Go Directly to the Site (Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect $200)
If you receive a coupon for Cyber Monday via email, do not click on the link provided, especially if it’s a zip file; instead, type the website’s url directly into your search browser. If you don’t see the sale posted on their website, it’s probably spam.
In fact, if you receive any emails that come with an attachment, proceed with caution. They could easily contain malware, false coupons, and other spam that could infect your computer. If you’re ever unsure about a sale, type the exact verbiage surrounded by quotes into a search engine. It’s possible that, if it is spam, someone else discovered an issue and reported it online.
Beware of Pop-Ups
Pop-ups often display false coupons, lead to undesirable sites, or trap viewers in scripting attacks. Keep in mind that hackers will take every opportunity they can to inflict shoppers with malware. Many cyber criminals are eager to take advantage of excited cyber shoppers, so question any suspicious activity on the internet this Monday.
You can be almost positive that a pop-up is spam when they ask for too much information. Obvious examples include social security number, weird personal information like favorite color or first pet, and password security questions. Don’t ever hand over this sort of information.
Question Social Networks
Many Cyber Monday scams take place on social media channels. Hackers take advantage of fake accounts to post deals that shoppers can’t resist. Don’t ever follow links shared in open groups, and question every deal that’s too good to be true – because it probably is.
Avoid QR Codes
QR codes are black and white pixelated squares that can be scanned by smartphones. Many retail stores will send out coupons and links to special deals that shoppers can scan in the comfort of their own homes. Hackers can create similar codes that link to malicious sites – some cyber criminals even create stickers that can be placed over authentic codes to trap unsuspecting shoppers! It’s wise to question all tactics this coming Monday.
We hope these tips help you shop safely this coming Monday. If you need more advice on internet security, call 585.230.8790 and we’d be happy to help!