How to stay safe online on Black Friday


By Zakir Hussain

When the Black Friday craze engulfs the planet, people often throw caution aside for a good deal, opening a door for all sorts of cybercriminals. But staying safe online is not difficult if you follow a few simple rules.

Six times more spam emails are sent than legitimate emails each day, and about 75% of them land in people’s inboxes. Around one in 10 spam emails is malicious, so it’s easy to see just how dangerous the online landscape really is.

The Black Friday event adds even more problems as the amount of spam increases, and people are more likely to open emails and links they shouldn’t. Suddenly, social networks and emails are flooded with amazing sales that seem to be too good to be true, which is usually the case.

Ideally, installing a Software protection solution on mobile devices and PCs is recommended, but not everybody has one. To reduce the risk of falling for a phishing attempt or getting your credit card stolen, see the following advice:

Stick to known websites. The best deals sometimes come from shops you’ve never heard of, and that’s for a good reason. For example, the company behind the website might not exist, and all the details you provide are now in the hands of a third party who might try to access your online accounts.

Use only websites with HTTPS in their address. Shopping online usually involves sharing sensitive information with the websites, and data sent over HTTP is not encrypted. An attacker can steal your data if the online store is not secure.

Be very careful of links in emails and social networks. Phishing is the most common way to obtain personal information from people, and criminals use websites that look a lot like the one you’re looking for.

Stay connected to secure networks. Unprotected Wi-Fi connections are a treasure trove for attackers who want to intercept traffic. Even if you’re shopping on a secure website, you’re still sending a lot of data through an unknown Wi-Fi network. If you really need to use such as connection, at least employ a VPN.

Use two-factor authentication for accounts and financial transactions. Multi-factor authentication (MFA) and two-factor authentication (2FA) are great ways to secure an account. Even if someone has your credentials for a service, they would also need access to your phone or emails. Protecting financial transactions with MFA is just as important.

Robust passwords are always a good idea. Even if you’re tired of this advice, you should consider complex passwords, especially for online stores. And please, don’t use the same password on multiple websites.

Set up alerts on your credit cards. If you don’t already have this service, consider getting it. Most banks offer this feature, sometimes for free. When a stolen credit card is used, people get immediate notifications, which makes it much easier to stop thieves in their tracks.

Keep an eye out for phishing. Companies and organizations never ask for personal details or financial data over the Internet. An online service that claims to need this type of information is most likely a phishing scam.

Black Friday should be an enjoyable experience, and you can keep it that way if you respect these simple rules. And remember, if a deal is too good to be true, it probably is.

(The author is the Director, BD Soft India)


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