Stay safe from cybercrime over the festive period
With Black Friday and Cyber Monday approaching and festive online shopping habits increasing, this time of the year brings a huge increase in online traffic, which presents an increased opportunity for cyber-crime, so we’ve got a few tips on how to stay vigilant online.
Does the website start with HTTPS?
Do you trust the website you’re shopping from? When shopping online, make sure any website you’re browsing and purchasing from has a URL that starts with HTTPS and has a padlock icon. The ‘S’ stands for secure, which indicates that communications between your browser and the website are encrypted.
Is the advertised deal or competition trustworthy?
If it looks too good to be true, it most likely is. You may see brands advertising huge savings on social media, or competitions to win large hampers or holidays, however the pages that post these will often have little followers (which is the first sign it is not the official brand page!) and is instead a hacker impersonating a brand to trick users into giving away confidential information, for example passwords or payment information.
Don’t shop via public Wi-Fi
When out and about, whether that’s walking through the shopping mall on your mobile phone or at a café on your laptop, it can be very tempting to join public Wi-Fi networks with no passwords or authentication to quickly access the internet. However, we’d strongly recommend against joining any public Wi-Fi. Hackers may be able to position themselves between you and the connection point, which means they receive all your information, this can include any sensitive information you’re using such as credit card numbers or emails. You can find out more about it here.
Instead, if you find yourself without a private Wi-Fi available, you can use your mobile data, and tether your mobile device to create a personal internet “hotspot” to connect to other devices such as your laptop and access the internet using your mobile data instead. Although it’s worth knowing your data usage, to ensure you don’t build up extra charges from going over your data allowance!
Be extra vigilant with phishing emails
Cyber criminals will use Black Friday and the increase in online shopping to try to trick users via email. These phishing emails will likely create a sense of urgency such as ‘don’t miss out’ or ‘today only!’ Keep a look out, emails are often sent by a hacker impersonating a trusted brand, however there may be minor differences in the email address, for example, @geeeks.co.uk rather than @geeks.co.uk, or they may be using a mail domain such as gmail.com, whilst brands will very likely have their own branded domain e.g., @microsoft.com. We’ve previously written a blog to help you spot a phishing email, which you can find here.
Watch out for phishing texts
When awaiting a delivery, it’s likely you may receive a text from the courier to inform you of your parcel’s whereabouts, however this is where cyber-criminals can catch you out. Hackers can impersonate a delivery company and send you a text message, often called smishing, to try and trick you into giving personal or financial information. The text can sometimes alert you that a parcel is being held and you need to pay a certain amount for it to be released, however this parcel doesn’t exist, the hacker is simply trying to trick users into giving away confidential information.
It is usually easy to decipher a smishing attack, although during the festive season when you may have multiple parcels on the way, it is worth checking the text message thoroughly for legitimacy before clicking any links.
Understanding the risks and remaining vigilant could save you from potential cybercrime. Although these tips should be used year-round, this time of year is an especially vulnerable time for cyber-attacks, so stay vigilant and enjoy the festivities!