Eager shoppers have been warming up their “clicking” fingers in preparation of Cyber Monday, and the full day of steeply discounted online prices is now upon us.
Cyber Monday is the virtual counterpoint to Black Friday, which is traditionally one of the busiest shopping days in the United States.
The one-day-only sale made its debut in 2005 and has quickly gained traction with consumers on both sides of the border: sales have been growing year-by-year and are expected to top US$1 billion this year.
However, because Cyber Monday is so popular with shoppers, it’s also popular with thieves. Check Point Software Technologies warns that this year, hackers are focusing on social media.
“Hackers are busy creating fake profiles on social networking and e-commerce sites. These profiles and websites are meant to mimic well-known corporate brands, and coax users into clicking on their content,” cautions Canadian regional director Paul Comessotti.
The company offered a few tips for businesses to keep your holiday shopping safe and stress-free:
- Ensure your company has the latest intrusion prevention updates in place
- Businesses need to encourage employees to only visit SSL secured sites that encrypt data before transmitting it across the web. Depending on your browser, websites with SSL certificates will have a padlock icon or your address bar will change colour and users can lick on the padlock icon to verify the identity of the certificate owner.
- Update antivirus and Operating System (OS) patches.
- Retailers need to have appropriate internal security procedures enforced on temporary sites as well
- Ensure existing security gateway can handle the increase in traffic – especially for businesses, such as retailers, personal banking sites or e-commerce sites that anticipate large volumes of traffic.
Here are some other ways to stay secure:
- Use credit, not debit. Debit cards draw directly from your bank account, giving that much more information to would-be hackers
- Watch out for “restocking” fees on returned items
- Plan your purchase. Just like in-store shopping, it’s easy to get sucked in to deals on items you don’t need – or even want. Make a plan, and stick to it.
- Know your merchant. If possible, buy from reputable sights with proven track records.
- Keep a record. Print and keep a copy of all your receipts, just like you would in a bricks-and-mortar store.