6 Black Friday tips for safe online shopping
Black Friday is right around the corner, and as we look forward to great deals and offers, hackers and scammers around the world are also waiting for their most profitable day of the year. Every year billions of dollars are lost due to online shopping scams and this number is rising steadily. Here we’ve compiled 6 tips for the best online security practices that are can protect you from online scammers. But first, let’s talk about why online shopping is still so risky.
Why online shopping is still risky
We have made great advances in online security over the last decade, and a huge part of this progress has been educating people on online security and the types of fraudulent activities that take place online. But the hackers have also used this time to up their game, finding new ways to scam unassuming users. Identity theft, phishing scams, and account takeovers still happen all the time.
Online security is one of those areas of modern life, where the responsibility is equally shared between the user and whichever website or app you might be using. We’ve seen time and time again that even the biggest and most powerful websites often fall victim to online scams or hacker attacks. In a perfect world, all websites would be fully protected from all cyber crime, but the reality is you have to do your own part as well to protect your identity and personal data on the internet. The best way to get started is by using a VPN when you go online. BlufVPN has rock-solid encryption and the world’s best prices. BlufVPN also has a 30-day money-back guarantee policy, so there’s no reason not to try it out. Meanwhile, here are some of the best online security practices you can implement this Black Friday.
Make sure to only shop on HTTPS websites
Whenever you visit a website, make sure that it uses HTTPS instead of just HTTP. This is the minimum requirement for secure online shopping. The S here stands for Secure Socket Layer (SSL)/Transport Layer Security(TLS) protocol. This is an authentication and security protocol that encrypts your details. Sadly, HTTPS alone is not enough to ensure secure online shopping but think of it as your starting point in online safety. If a website does not have HTTPS, then it’s probably time to find a new place to shop at. You can easily check whether or not a website uses HTTPS by looking at the URL bar. If the link begins with “HTTPS://”, then you know that the website is relatively safe.
Don’t shop online using Public Wi-Fi
Public Wi-Fi is a nightmare for anyone concerned with online security. Public Wi-Fis are the most vulnerable to attacks and they offer no security whatsoever. If you don’t want your personal information exposed, avoid shopping through public Wi-Fi at all costs.
Hackers can easily scan public networks for any weak connections and then they can easily get away with cybercrime. But we get it, sometimes you don’t really have a choice but to use public Wi-Fi. If it comes to that then do yourself a favor and use a VPN. Using a VPN will encrypt your connection and your data will be secure from nosy hackers and scammers even through public Wifi.
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Beware of Phishing
Phishing is one of the oldest techniques scammers use to trick people online. It will usually happen over an email. In this case, you may receive a tempting Black Friday offer that looks professional enough to trick just about anyone. They will usually contain a spoofed URL or an odd request for personal information that most websites don’t ask for. If at any point you are being asked to share your password or financial information, you know that it’s a scam.
Spoofed URLs may be harder to spot because they tend to look very legitimate. A good rule of thumb is to not click any link before checking the URL. You can see the URL by hovering over the link or right-clicking on it. If it does not look right, it’s better to leave it alone.
Another popular way to scam people via emails is using popular company names like Paypal or eBay as the sender name. You have probably received a lot of emails from senders that look legit, but you always have to look at the actual email address. To use the Paypal example, if the email does not end with @paypal.com, it’s not actually from PayPal.
Only shop at legitimate online stores
This might seem like an obvious tip, but you should only shop at legitimate online stores. There are plenty of cases of hackers and scammers creating and then directing you towards wrong websites, usually with the name that is supposed to mimic the famous online store but with small, barely-there changes. They are banking on customers who don’t pay extra attention to small details and just like that you could fall victim to online fraud. You can never be too careful when shopping online, so don’t lose focus and double-check the URL before you make a purchase.
Before you hand over your private information to any website, including your email, birthday or more importantly your financial information make sure that you are on the right website that is safe for customers to use. Generally, avoid sharing more than is necessary online.
Check your online banking
While ideally, we want to prevent online scams from happening beforehand, sometimes it might slip under our radar, or we might make a small human error and expose our data to scammers. It happens to the best of us. If you have suspicions about the website you made a purchase from, you can check your debit card and credit card statements.
Actually, it’s a good practice to incorporate into your daily life in general. Debit and Credit card fraud is not exclusive to cyberspace and can happen even while you are walking down the street. The best way to prevent this is to regularly check your card statements so that you can report any suspicious activity right away. The sooner you catch the error higher the chances that you will manage to get your money back.
Regularly update your browser
Another tip that will often slip people’s minds is to update their browsers. While some may not see any point in updates or just find them annoying, they actually serve a very important purpose, especially when it comes to security. With each and every update, the browsers are better equipped to handle any cyberattack attempt. As we’ve mentioned already, hackers are becoming more and more advanced every day, so our browsers are constantly being updated to be able to manage potential threats and attacks. So while the update notifications might get annoying, they do serve a purpose, so make sure to take advantage of all the updates and improvements in your favorite browser so you can enjoy online shopping safely.