If you are like eight out of ten Americans 1 , then you know and participate in the convenience of online shopping. While online shopping is easy, budget-friendly, and a “shopping trip” can be accomplished from the comfort of your couch, it is important to be aware of the increased risks of online shopping, especially during the holiday season. Cyber Monday is the biggest online shopping day of the year in the United States 2 , consistently breaking records year after year, and hackers capitalize on this fact.

Did you know that last year there were 6,000 scams disguised as Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales? 3 In addition, in 2017, there was a 57.5% increase in attempted cyber-attacks on Cyber Monday 4 compared to other days of the year, and this statistic is only projected to grow.

During the time window from Black Friday until the end of the year, online shoppers will be
particularly exposed to phishing scams, unsecure malware, pop-ups and unsecure websites that
could result in serious, long-term implications. At Penny Insurance Agency, it is our
responsibility to ensure our clients are secure from cyber-attacks and equipped with the
knowledge of how to avoid them. With Cyber Monday quickly approaching, we’ve gathered
some helpful practices to stay safe and maintain your cyber hygiene to steer clear of hackers
this holiday season.

Change Bank Account Passwords After Online Shopping

We can’t emphasize this enough– change your passwords. If you plan to shop online during Cyber Monday, remember to change your online bank account passwords on Giving Tuesday. Hackers are working non-stop during this vulnerable time window to steal sensitive information, and one of the easiest ways to prevent being hacked is to simply change your passwords. That’s not all though… make sure to never re-use old passwords and that your passwords are different on each account and are difficult strength passwords. In case you were wondering, your name or birthday just won’t cut it.

Always Use Two-Factor Identification/Authentication

Two-factor Identification/authentication is an easy safety net you can utilize to protect your information. Setting up two-factor authentication doubles your protection and makes it twice as hard for hackers to steal your information. Be sure to activate two-factor authentication all on your accounts and devices before online shopping this Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Never Click on Pop-Up Links

The world of digital advertising is continuing to grow with digital ads becoming more interactive
and “following” consumers around with relevant products. While this is convenient and
trending, be wary of pop-up ads. Cyber attackers are becoming increasingly more sophisticated
in their tactics and can disguise themselves to appear safe and reputable. To prevent this, just
go directly to sites manually instead of clicking your way there through a pop-up.

Be Cautious of Free Wi-fi

One of the most common ways hackers inch their way into your devices to steal information is through Wi-Fi. Be very careful with where you connect to Wi-Fi, especially free Wi-Fi, and keep an eye out for any suspicious activity after connecting to a Wi-Fi source. If you’re able, use your own personal data on your mobile device instead of connecting to Wi-Fi as one way to prevent this type of phishing scam.

Always Check the Site Before Making Purchases

One of the simplest ways to prevent your credit card number from being stolen is to double- check your browser for the letters “https” before the website URL. Simply double-click on the URL tab at the top of your browser and check for “https” before submitting any purchases. Getting in the habit of verifying web browsers is an easy and simple practice for good cyber hygiene.

In light of Black Friday and Cyber Monday– the busiest online shopping day of the year– it is imperative to practice proper cyber hygiene habits to avoid common mistakes that can lead to serious damage to your private information. These tips do not just apply to individuals, though. Business owners need to be especially aware and proactive as well, because data breaches can cost them their reputation, legal fees, and more.

If you need assistance protecting your information or would like to learn more, contact us today by filling out our contact form or call us directly. We’re here to help.

1. https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2016/12/19/online-shopping-and-e-commerce/
2. https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20181126005829/en/Adobe-Analytics-Data-Shows-Cyber-Monday-Broke
3. https://www.wired.com/story/black-friday-scams/
4. https://www.carbonblack.com/2018-holiday-threat-report/