Tips for navigating the online sales without falling victim to cyber criminals
Part 1: Cyber safety tips for consumers
Several years ago, few outside of the US would have heard of Black Friday. Fast-forward to 2019 and Black Friday and Cyber Monday are now firmly established as two of the biggest days in the retail calendar with billions spent globally1. For consumers seeking a pre-Christmas deal online – perhaps shopping on multiple sites, multiple times, and even using multiple bank cards – it’s also a time when personal and financial information can be particularly vulnerable to cyber criminals.
A BlackFriday.Global survey which analysed responses from 12,000 participants in 55 countries revealed a 663 percent increase in sales on Black Friday compared to an ordinary day, with the vast majority of people shopping online or a combination of online and in-store and only 16% opting to shop purely “offline”2. In 2018, according to a report from Adobe Analytics, Black Friday pulled in a record breaking $6.22 billion in e-commerce sales in the US3 and only two days later Cyber Monday topped that raking in $7.9 billion in US online sales4.
The benefit for consumers in a digital-first world is that if we know what product we’d like to buy there are several tools – and comparison engines – at our disposal to find the lowest available price. And it’s not uncommon for consumers to use a website or company they have never heard of to save ahead of the holiday season, while Google finds that 2 in every 3 users reuse the same password on several websites5.
All of which makes consumers more vulnerable to falling victim to a cyber breach; but you don’t have to be a victim. Some simple precautions can help you stay cyber safe this Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Here are five simple tips for consumers this sale season:
- Good password management: having a secure strong password specifically associated to one website and managed carefully can significantly improve your chances of avoiding a data breach. The National Cyber Security Centre provides some excellent advice on password management here6.
- Keep your devices updated: generally good advice in online security, however given that 2 billion people currently access the internet solely via their smartphone – a number expected to increase to 3.7 billion by 2025 (according to a report by WARC)7 it has becomes more relevant than ever. If you’re using an application or browser to make your purchases – make sure it’s updated to the latest version ahead of submitting personal data.
- Avoid opening unexpected attachments: if you’re making several transactions, it’s likely you may be receiving several receipts in your inbox. If there’s an email or attachment you’re not expecting, or from a website or sender that seems suspicious, treat it with caution and avoid opening it – the most commonly suspected source of the most disruptive breach is email attachments8.
- Keep your history (and data) private: if you’re using a shared device – or a device sharing data with a multi-user network – to browse shopping deals, consider carefully what you choose to save and share. Research by the Consumers International and the Internet Society found some 75% of consumers have stated they don’t trust the data shared on internet connected devices9 and so if you’re not the sole user, consider this carefully before entering credit card or personal information.
- Use trusted websites: remember the old saying ‘if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is’. Many online shoppers are more likely to buy from a retailer where they are recognized and 77% consumers have relationships with retailers lasting longer than 10 years according to InMoment10, in part due to loyalty schemes and brand trust. Often the largest retailers recognize this trust as critical to their success and therefore extend it to their online presence by investing in the security of their platforms and customer data. Through keeping your shopping to trusted sources you can limit your risk, however if you’re using a new site this sale season consider the security of the website before entering your details. An easy way to check if the e-commerce websites you frequent are SSL certified is to look at the URL and see if it uses ‘http://’ or ‘https://’ protocol. The additional ‘s’ signifies a secure e-payment system. You can also look for the padlock icon at the beginning of the URL.
Don’t get more than you bargained for:
By following these simple steps, you will help to minimize the risk of getting more than you bargained for when you head out to the online marketplace this Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Of course, cyber breaches can still happen, but you can minimize the chance by managing your risk (and data!) accordingly.
Click here to read Part 2 of this blog post: Cyber safety tips for Businesses
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- https://www.salecycle.com/blog/strategies/black-friday-ultimate-ecommerce-guide/ citing Adobe Analytics 2018 online shopping data for Cyber Monday and the holiday week overall
- https://www.infosecurity-magazine.com/news/google-survey-finds-two-users/ citing http://services.google.com/fh/files/blogs/google_security_infographic.pdf and https://theharrispoll.com/
- https://www.cnbc.com/2019/01/24/smartphones-72percent-of-people-will-use-only-mobile-for-internet-by-2025.html / citing a World Advertising Research Center report published in January 2019 using data from mobile trade body GSMA
- https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/702074/Cyber_Security_Breaches_Survey_2018_-_Main_Report.pdf Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0
- https://www.vox.com/recode/2019/5/13/18547235/trust-smart-devices-privacy-security citing https://www.internetsociety.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/CI_IS_Joint_Report-EN.pdf
- https://www.smallbizgenius.net/by-the-numbers/retail-statistics/ citing InMoment’s 2018 US Retail CX Trends Report