Black Friday Boom Will Bring Cybercriminals Out of the Shadows

Is there anything the internet hasn’t made better? As purveyors of all things nerdy, geeky and techie, we’re fans of anything that makes life easier. At a time of year when gift-giving is an inescapable part of life, the internet comes into its own once again. According to the National Retail Federation, 165 million people plan to shop between Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday. On top of that, data from RetailMeNot suggests that 85% of consumers will make at least one purchase over Thanksgiving weekend.

The Internet Lights Up Black Friday

For the deal-hungry consumer, the internet has clearly made shopping easier. However, what it’s also done is take a US tradition and make it a worldwide phenomenon. Today, it doesn’t matter if you’re celebrating Thanksgiving or not, you can get in on the Black Friday action. As it often does, the UK has taken its cues from the US. Using the Trusted Reviews deals for Black Friday guide, UK consumers can not only see which retailers have deals but where the best offers are. From the likes of Currys PC World and John Lewis to Argos, a host of British brands have jumped on the Black Friday Bandwagon.

The same goes for other westernized countries. Head over to Australian media outlet New.com.au and you’ll find a rundown of the best Black Friday deals Down Under. If you live in Canada, the same goes for a litany of online retail, review and media platforms. In simple terms, the internet has made Black Friday one of the biggest days in retail and, moreover, an international event that every consumer can take advantage of. However, as much as we laud the advent of modern technology, there are some pitfalls. With privacy and cybercrime constant concerns, consumers are being urged to shop with caution this Black Friday.

In 2018, the National Cyber Security Centre, part of the GCHQ intelligence service in the UK, warned shoppers of “malicious” online threats. In tandem with previous warnings, security firm Check Point said instances of phishing emails were already up ahead of Black Friday 2019. As per its findings, the use of retail phishing URLs was up 233% by mid-November and 275% just a week before Thanksgiving. With cybersecurity firms on high-alert, you should be as well. The obvious advice for consumers is to think logically. If a deal is too good to be true, even on Black Friday, it could be a scam.

Use Your Brain and Tech to Stay Safe

Beyond that, there are some techie ways to stay safe. Look at the URL. If you don’t see the prefix “HTTPS,” consider skipping over the site. All secure payment processors, such as PayPal and Google Checkout will take you to HTTPS pages before requesting sensitive payment information, as explained in depth by Google support. Another tip is to avoid open Wi-Fi networks.

Yes, shopping on your mobile is great. However, if the network is open to the public, there’s always a chance someone can hijack your connection and steal your data. Finally, set up alerts. Every online banking service will send you notifications on request. From payments going out to login attempts, you can keep track of your account activity via your desktop and mobile.

And that brings us full circle to the beauty of online technology. As shoppers prepare to spend hundreds of millions online, we’re reminded again of the internet’s power and beauty. However, with every positive, there’s often a negative lurking somewhere in the shadows. With Black Friday and Cyber Monday presenting criminals with an offer too good to refuse, staying safe should be a matter of priority. Fortunately, through a combination of good sense and technology, you should be able to bag the deal of the day without any worries this November.

Featured image: online shops” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Sari Montag

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