Cybercriminals need shopping money for the Holidays and one of their favorite times to get yours is when you are shopping on #CyberMonday.
Use these tips to help stay #cybersecure while shopping online for #CyberMonday and at any other time:
- Credit or debit? Use credit cards, not debit cards, for your online shopping. Debit cards are tied directly to your bank account so if there is a problem, your money is gone. With credit cards, it is borrowed money, plus, if you have a problem with the merchant or order, the credit card company can act as your intermediary in the dispute. If possible, have one credit card that is used solely for online shopping in case you need to cancel it.
- Secure Internet connection. When shopping online, it is best to avoid free WiFi or other forms of open WiFi in public locations. When you are out, it is best to use your own data plan or, if you must use public WiFi, use a VPN to help minimize the risk of having your information stolen.
- Credible merchants. Only shop at online merchants that are credible and well-established. Anyone can put up a website in a short amount of time, make sure you know you’re dealing with a trusted merchant with a history of doing business.
- Scams – too good to be true (merchants). Be wary of deals that seem too good to be true and do not get too greedy because if a “deal” seems that good, it almost certainly is and the person behind the scam is either outright stealing your money or they are trying to steal your information.
- Saving information with merchant. While it is more convenient to save your personal information and payment information with the merchant, doing so also means that information is now stored in their database and can be compromised. It is best to not save your information with merchants.
- Scams – too good to be true (click here). Be wary of emails or social media posts that advertise deals that seem too good to be true and then tell you to “click here” on a link to see more information. Those are usually phishing emails that are designed for the sole purpose of getting you to click the link so they can either steal your information or deposit malware on your device. Cybercriminals can perfectly clone emails from legitimate merchants such as FedEx, PayPal, Amazon, and others so just because the email looks legit doesn’t mean it is — don’t click on the links!
- Scams — the sad story. While not limited to online shopping, a close relative to the “too good to be true” scam are the scams that play on your sympathy and generosity during the Holidays. An example of these is chain emails that tell of a tragedy that has befallen people and asks for donations. Criminals know how to play on our sympathies and use our emotions to manipulate us into doing things we would never do otherwise, such as sending money because someone asked for it in an email or social media post. Unless you know the people first hand, do not let your emotions overtake your judgment and stick with reputable charitable organizations with an established history.
- Good Cyber Hygiene. Whether for shopping on #CyberMonday or otherwise, it is best to always use good #CyberHygiene to protect yourself online. Here is a free Checklist for Good Cyber Hygiene.
For more discussion of these tips for staying safe while shopping online see 5 tips for Avoiding the Cyber Grinch this Cyber Monday! and Cyber Monday: Online safety tips from a cybersecurity expert.
- What do Holiday charities, school weather closings, social media, and ransomware have in common?
- WFAA TV Interviews Shawn Tuma for Holiday Shopping Cybersecurity Tips (video 1) (video 2)
Shawn Tuma (@shawnetuma) is an attorney with an internationally recognized reputation in cybersecurity, computer fraud, and data privacy law. He is a Cybersecurity & Data Privacy Attorney at Scheef & Stone, LLP, a full-service commercial law firm in Texas that represents businesses of all sizes throughout the United States and, through its Mackrell International network, around the world.