Top tips for safer shopping this Black Friday/Cyber Monday

The Thanksgiving holiday weekend has become one of the year's busiest times for in-store and online shopping, with sales predicted to rise as much as 14% over last year. 

In a rush to grab the best online deals, consumers let their guard down and are unknowingly making themselves liable to tech-savvy cybercriminals. For this reason, we have outlined some guidelines for safer shopping.

Retailers' resolutions for Black Friday/Cyber Monday

10 Steps for businesses

  1. Guarantee security: Give consumers confidence by guaranteeing data security when entering personal details. Symbols such as the Secure Digital Transactions Kitemark or the closed padlock symbol are looked for by consumers to confirm that site’s security when making online purchases.
  2. Don't share customer data with third parties: One of the consumers' major bugbears with online retailers is sharing their details with third parties, as shown by recent BSI research. Opting consumers from receiving third-party information by default encourages them to shop with you.
  3. Don’t sell on data: In addition to restricting third-party marketing materials, ensure that customers can be confident that their data will not be sold without express permission.
  4. Install software updates: Ensure software running on computers and network devices is the most updated versions.
  5. Use the latest software: Ensure software running on computers and network devices is kept up-to-date.
  6. Ensure your staff knows how to keep data safe: Set up an internal information security policy to follow and appropriate staff training.
  7. Install anti-virus software: Protect yourself when online and from mobile devices with comprehensive anti-virus software.
  8. Control employee access: Keep records of users’ access to applications, computers, and networks.
  9. Use secure cloud-based services with care: The cheapest cloud storage services aren’t always the most secure – ensure that any cloud storing personal or confidential information has appropriate security measures.
  10. Regularly refresh passwords: Change passwords regularly to avoid hacking of personal data or misuse by rogue employees.

Following these tips will help you be more vigilant when shopping online, not only during Black Friday and Cyber Monday but throughout the year. 

Guide to safer online shopping this Black Friday/Cyber Monday

11 Steps for consumers

  1. Share only necessary data: When shopping online, only share the information needed to complete the purchase. Never give your bank details away or link to your bank account details with payment tools.
  2. Guard your personal data: If you have concerns about your personal data, you should read the company’s privacy notice. Companies must provide you with this notice at the data collection point. This notice should outline how the company processes your data, who they share it with, how you can exercise your rights and who you can contact at the company if you have any queries about personal data.
  3. Purchase from reputable retailer websites: Only shop at well-known department chains, discount retailers, and businesses you see regularly advertising sales. Look for symbols like the closed padlock symbol at checkout to guarantee that the retailer meets industry-required security standards. The padlock symbol on your web browser’s address bar and URL addresses that begin with ‘HTTPS’ indicate secure sites and that your data is encrypted. If you see deals offered on social media sites for a retailer, go to that retailer's website directly to purchase the item to avoid a potential cyber scam.
  4. Look out for phishing scams: Be wary of emails asking for your personal details, even if they appear to come from your bank or service provider. If you’re unsure, check with the real business first.
  5. Avoid saving credit card information: The fewer sites with your card data, the better. The easiest way to do this is to untick the ‘Don’t store my card details’ option at checkout. Other tools like MasterPass, 3D Secure, or a payment provider like PayPal can help keep your data secure. Shop with credit cards versus debit cards which can give direct access to your bank account.
  6. Keep software updated: Do regular checks for upgrades to your operating system or software updates and install these. Making sure you have the latest patches for anti-spyware and anti-virus programs is also a must, as these will ensure nobody can track your internet use or infect your device.
  7. Don't shop on public computers or public Wi-Fi: When using a public computer, always log out and close the browser when you’re finished. If you’re given the option of free Wi-Fi, avoid giving personal or payment information and choose to browse using the ‘Public browsing’ setting where available.
  8. Be cautious in emails: Think twice before responding to an email from someone you don’t recognize or an email that seems out of character. These are common phishing tactics, so if unsure, do not respond or click links in the email.
  9. Diligent downloading: Only download from sites you know and trust. Ensure that you have the highest levels of security on your downloads to prevent malware from accessing your computer while browsing.
  10. Regularly review statements: Monitor bank and credit card activity and statements for unusual charges. This could indicate that your account has been hacked and would require you to contact your provider to change your details. Always keep electronic receipts as a backup.
  11. Always look for the tick box: Many companies may automatically try to opt you in to receive marketing emails and newsletters or to pass on your details to third parties. If you don't want this, ensure you untick or tick the relevant box during the buying process.

Following these tips will help you be more vigilant when shopping online, not only during Black Friday and Cyber Monday but throughout the year. 

Additional resources