Cyber Monday is a big event for marketers, advertisers, retailers, and bargain hunters. Like Black Friday, Cyber Monday offers a one day opportunity to score outrageous deals on everything from coveted holiday toys to the latest and greatest electronics. In sharp contrast to Black Friday, a Cyber Monday shopper can completely avoid the crowds and traffic of traditional shopping, and experience epic purchasing opportunities from the comfort of their own home, powered only by the abilities of the Internet.

While the risks of participating in Cyber Monday are far different from those associated with joining the herd of crazy shoppers on Black Friday, they do still exist in the form of cyber scams. Although point of sale malware can be present in physical stores (making any credit card transaction risky), the threat of credit card data theft, fraudulent sales, misguided shipping info, or full-on identity hijacking are greatly amplified online in the days surrounding Cyber Monday. According to this infographic by Inc, 64% of organizations report an increase in cyber crime activity on cyber Monday and phishing links go up as much as 336% around Thanksgiving.

Cyber Crime Statistics on Cyber Monday: INFOGRAPHIC by INC

Fortunately, online cyber criminals can be easy to outsmart, as they often prey on the most unaware and misinformed shoppers. Become a more informed Cyber Monday deal chaser by following these cybersecurity tips for a safe and happy online holiday shopping event.

Develop A Cybersecurity Strategy For Cyber Monday

A solid strategy for cybersecurity on Cyber Monday requires careful, ahead of time planning. Part of the fun of Cyber Monday is chasing great deals, discounts and incentivized purchases. Part of what cyber criminals try to capitalize on are consumers so desperate for these deals that they’ll follow links around the internet with no regard to their validity.

First, consider your payment methods. Never use debit cards to shop online. Unlike credit cards, debit cards are directly linked to your bank account. If their numbers fall into the wrong hands, cyber criminals could do a lot more than make a fraudulent purchase with your card. Research your credit card’s theft policy. If a fraudulent purchase is made with your credit card will it be covered by your bank? Usually the case it yes, but it doesn’t hurt to double check.

Perform a routine security check prior to Cyber Monday shopping. Update your computer’s operating system and software, including anti-malware and a trusted ad-blocking program to ensure maximum coverage. This is also a good time to back up your entire hard drive if you don’t do it routinely already.

Decide in advance what sorts of purchases you are looking to make, and what deals are being offered by the retailers. Trusted retailers don’t often try to hide their deals, or offer them only to those who spam their links to social media. To enjoy a safe Cyber Monday, only shop at the online retailers with which you are highly familiar. These companies have more safe guards in place and are more capable of handling a cyber situation should it occur.

Think: Amazon, Target, HomeDepot, eBay, BestBuy, Overstock, etc.

When you stick to well known store names you aren’t facing the risk of those stores being run by cyber criminals themselves- as you might if you were buying from a completely unknown or foreign site.

Avoid Cyber Monday Risks In Your Inbox

Keep a careful watch on your email offers. Following a link in a phishing email could lead you to a fake storefront and trick you into thinking the store is real and reputable. Do not click through to sites directly from an email link, but rather type in the name of the site to arrive at it safely.

Perform a safety check by verifying the site’s logo, spelling and grammar and make sure links leading out of it are working. Most importantly, be sure it shows ‘https’ rather than just ‘http’ in the browser bar. That ’s’ stands for secure.

Join the email lists of the websites you plan to shop ahead of time to get an understanding of what they plan to offer on Cyber Monday. For extra security, you can even create a new email account and use it only to collect these email offers. Doing this will offer you an extra level of protection and will help to keep your working inbox clean after the shopping frenzy is over.

Get familiar with the look and feel of legitimate emails from websites you plan to shop on Cyber Monday. This will help you have a sharper eye for spotting a phishing attempt email should one land in your inbox.

Practice Cyber Monday Cyber Crime Awareness

Awareness is key while browsing the internet for Cyber Monday deals. Keep these final pieces of information in mind and question everything you see in your inbox, and on websites and social media sites.

-Be aware that fake notifications can exist in the form of pop ups or emails from trusted sources like eBay, PayPal, FedEX, or others. When in doubt, always go directly to the website to edit or alter any information that is asked of you.

-Know that ‘too good to be true’ offers you see passed around social media sites, are probably not offers actually made by the trusted retailer.

-Watch out for emails with attachments to download- they often come in the form of zip files containing malware, spyware, or adware.

-Take extra precaution by not storing your credit card information within a website. Attackers can go as far as breaking into the user accounts on retail sites, particularly ones with stored credit card information.

With these tips in mind for safe shopping on Cyber Monday you can likely find some great deals and avoid some terrible post turkey day scams.

Happy Cyber Monday!

If you’d like to learn more about Cybersecurity awareness or learn about advanced training, please visit SecureNinja– The Cybersecurity Experts.