Internet safety during Black Friday sales


27 November 2020

By Lucy Wright

Did you know ….

The main Black Friday sales start today.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday were originally aimed at the US shopping market following their Thanksgiving celebrations with Black Friday being mainly in-store shopping and Cyber Monday being online.

If you fancy having a bit of a spending spree online during these events please take a look at the tips below to stay safe online whilst you do so.

  • Make sure your browser is up to date.  It doesn’t matter if you prefer Internet Explorer, Chrome, FireFox or any other web browser,  please make sure you are using the most up to date version which will contact all the latest security patches to prevent anybody gaining access to your pc and more importantly, your personal details.
  • Look for HTTPS or a lock symbol at the beginning of the webpage URL (the name of the website).  Do this before you even think about entering any personal or bank details at checkout.  The lock symbol and the https: prefix are indicators that your shopping session is secure and that the site is using encryption to protect your personal data.   This protocol is known as SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) encryption, and it helps protect online transactions by keeping data in transit confidential through encryption. In other words, your information is encoded and not visible to hackers.The URL in the bar at the top of your screen should have the lock symbol and begin https
  • Understand the privacy policy of the website.  Make sure you thoroughly understand the company’s privacy policy and how your personal data will be used.  I know it is the boring bit that people don’t read but you need to know what kind of information is being collected and how relevant it is to the product that is being provided. Find out how this data will be used and who will have access to it. Some websites may give you the choice to opt out of sharing information.  Yes, it’s boring but do read any disclaimers and marketing statements regarding how your data is going to be held and used or you could find yourself receiving marketing and spam emails from all kinds of companies.  It is common for people to sell customer data to companies for telesales and marketing.
  • Learn to spot phishing attempts and questionable deals.  During the holiday season you could receive emails advertising unbelievably great deals. Beware because these could be phishing attempts, and any weblinks could direct you to a bogus website built to capture personal information.    See our previous top tip about how to spot a phishing attempt.   Remember, check who the email is from, is it a legitimate address.  Rather than clicking a link through to the website, go to your web browser and type it in from scratch or use a search engine to ensure you are using a valid customer site.  Never click a link to verify any personal information.  Always go to the company’s website and login.
  • Create strong passwords.  Shopping websites often ask you to create an account these days.  Never use the same password for all online accounts, if one gets hacked, then they all get hacked.  Use a strong password with numbers, upper and lowercase and symbols.  Don’t use common words or the names of your child, pet or family members and don’t use date of birth.  Hackers always try these combinations first because they are easy to remember.
  • The last tip to share…..  don’t spend too much!

Happy shopping.