Once again, ‘Black Friday’ will soon be upon us! A day when shoppers brave the highstreets in search of bargains! The shops will be expecting a bumper Christmas boost signalling the start of their Christmas rush! Black Friday is the day that retailers hope to see their accounts go from the red, into the Black. A great boost for the economy.
But Black Friday will be swiftly followed by ‘Cyber Monday’, where online retailers see a surge in online activity as prices are slashed and deals are the order of the day! “Hurrah!” I hear you cry! But wait… I don’t mean to be a Grinch but it’s not all good news.
Cyber Monday – £2bn spending spree
For us at Cyberfort, we know Black Friday, will be used by Black-Hat Hackers to scam and defraud people who are on the hunt for a bargain. These criminals have no interest in spreading Christmas cheer and the only boost they’re looking for is to their own accounts.
Of course, with BREXIT still in the balance, no one is quite sure what the buying public will be doing come Black Friday or Cyber Monday, but estimates suggest the figure could be close to last years £10bn injection to the UK high street economy. And ‘Cyber Monday’ is likely to also equal if not smash previous years totals.
Experts predict we will spend around £2bn online on Black Friday and on Cyber Monday. Great news for you and I, great news for the economy but great news for the Bad Guys too!
Top Tips for a Cyber Happy Christmas
Like the miser of Dicken’s novel, ‘Scrooge’, Cyber criminals are rubbing their hands together and greedily watching as we go about our online shopping. The criminals know that we are on the hunt for bargains and that we are cash rich, but time poor so we are less likely to check our bank accounts for strange transactions, less likely to research those ‘bargains’ we’re seeing on our screens and in our inboxes, and less likely to question emails with infected links.
So what can we do? Follow these tips to be cyber-savy and you’ll have a happier Black Friday and Cyber Monday without the ‘Grinch’ stealing your hard-earned money (and seasonal cheer).
- Don’t believe everything you read – If you get an email from a site offering to sell you bargain items at crazy low prices it could be trap (“55’’ TV’s for just £250” anyone?). As the saying goes if it seems to be good to be true; it probably is.
- Check the site is secure – Before entering your personal details, like bank account information look for the ‘closed padlock’ on your web browser and make sure the site begins with ‘https’. But even here, do your research. Cyber criminals are highly organised and often appear to be legitimate businesses, but goods provided may not be as promised.
- Computer Housekeeping – Make sure your PC is up to date with the latest Anti-Virus software and Security settings are enabled. While you’re checking this, why not change any important passwords to something more secure? I know you’ve heard this one before, but don’t use the same password for EVERYTHING! Having the same password is like having one key for your car, house, office etc.
- Check your accounts – Cyber criminals hope you’re too busy to check your bank accounts. Don’t fall into the trap. Check your bank account regularly and if you spot any strange transactions – report it.
- Don’t click or respond– A common practice at this time of year is for a scammer to email you an attachment with something like “Your order is being processed. Please see attached the £699 order you have made”. Your immediate reaction is to cry “WHAT?!” and then click on the file to open it. At that point your PC may be infected with a virus, Ransomware or some other malicious software, and your Christmas is going to become a lot more expensive than you thought.
This time of year is often an expensive time for us all. We all want to buy nice things for our loved ones, and criminals (cyber and traditional) are aware of this. Don’t give them what they want this year – give them a tough time and keep the ‘gift giving’ to those huddled around your tree, not those huddled around a computer.
As a final bonus tip; Talk to your colleagues, friends and family about staying safe online. Of course you don’t want to tell them what you’re buying! But ask them about their buying habits, and share these tips with them. Helping them to shop safely this year could be the best gift you can give.
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