Black Friday, which takes place this week as part of the US Thanksgiving long weekend, is traditionally the busiest shopping day of the season.
Indeed, it gets its name because retailers aim to sell enough to bring their businesses out of the red and into the black for the rest of the calendar year.
In recent years, Black Friday has spread not only outside the the US, but also beyond Friday, and even beyond the weekend.
One UK retailer’s “Black Friday”, for example, started several days ago and will last for close to two weeks in total.
Black Friday is followed by Cyber Monday, a chance for online retailers to tempt you with yet more bargains, or to give you a second chance at the ones you missed out on over the weekend.
So, there’s plenty of fun to be had, and loads of bargains…
…but there’s one aspect to the Black Friday season that helps scammers more than anything else: EVERYONE GETS IN A GREAT BIG RUSH!
We put our heads together and came up with three simple steps to help you enjoy your Black Friday shopping trips without getting hacked by haste.
1. Take care how you connect
When you’re out and about, scampering through the mall or rushing from shopping street to shopping street, it’s handy to stay online so you can look at the map, message your friends, check prices, and plenty more.
But how much do you know about the Wi-Fi networks you’re connecting to?
A crook who wanders the crowds claiming to be your favourite coffee shop or the free Wi-Fi you used on the train into town can mess with your traffic by inviting your phone to connecting to an imposter network.
Don’t be in such a hurry to get online that you make a bad choice – why not turn Wi-Fi off for the day, and stick to your 3G/4G connection instead?
If you do want to use Wi-Fi while you’re out and about – now and in the future – why not watch our recent Facebook Live video, Is Wi-Fi still safe to use?
(Can’t see the video directly above this line? Watch on Facebook instead.)
2. Take care what you click
Time pressure is a sales tactic used by legitimate businesses as well as by crooks, and Black Friday is all about time limits – buy now or else the price will go up (or the product will sell out)!
You’re likely to get some amazing offers over the Black Friday season, so for once it won’t just be the crooks with deals that sound almost too good to be true.
Also, if you’re buying more than usual over the Black Friday weekend, you can expect to see numerous confirmation emails (and perhaps even legitimate warnings) about online transactions you’ve performed or attempted.
Don’t get so click-happy that you wander into phishing traps by mistake.
Don’t let your guard down, and don’t click on anything “just in case”.
During National Cybsersecurity Awareness Month (October 2017) we advised you as follows: Stop. Think. Connect.
This advice holds as much and more so in Black Friday season, so don’t be in a hurry: listen to your head and not your heart.
3. Take care where you go
Even if you type in every website name yourself, in an abundance of caution, you can land in hot water.
This is especially true on mobile phones where it’s easy to miss a character or to type a letter that’s next door to the one you really wanted, like typing exanple instead of example, or rnailserver instead of mailserver.
Crooks register these near-miss domains to catch you off your guard – the trick is called typosquatting – and, once again, haste can hurt you, so, once again: Stop. Think. Connect.
If you’re tempted to rush into cybersecurity risks just to seal that bargain-of-a-lifetime, slow down.
When it comes to your personal information, chill it, don’t spill it.