Deal or no deal – what to watch out for this Black Friday and Cyber Monday

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In a year like no other, it is likely that 2020’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals will be more frenzied than ever. With many industries, particularly retail, crippled by pandemic lockdowns and distancing restrictions, the upcoming weekend presents an opportunity to recoup some losses. The pandemic has accelerated the already growing increase in online shopping, with e-commerce sales expected to reach $4.2 trillion by the end of 2020 (Statista).

Although many physical stores will be closed or keeping the usual crowds of shoppers to a minimum – the online space will be just as jam-packed as ever with offers and sales. This makes it the perfect breeding ground for cyber-attacks and scams, from phishing emails to suspicious social media ads. For many, mobile devices have become the primary method for online shopping, so it is vital that consumers are protected across all technologies.

Here are ESET’s top five tips for what to watch out for and to stay safe this Black Friday and Cyber Monday:

  1. Stick to what you know – If you see an offer in a promotional email or an online ad that seems too good to be true, then it probably is! Finding an item immediately from an unrecognized vendor with the best price can be a red flag. If you're unsure about a website, then don't click on the link – head separately to the website of the organization the sender is claiming to represent to find out if the offer is legitimate.
  2.  Look-alikes and fake websites – Look for the padlock and, on a desktop device, the https:// at the beginning of the website address. These indicate that communication between you and the site is encrypted and any data you send can’t be seen by anyone intercepting the traffic.
  3.  Dodgy incoming information – Suspicious texts with malicious links, elaborate phishing emails and fraudulent banking notifications are all techniques used by online scammers. In addition, be wary of threatening messages that try to get you to hand over sensitive information, such as bank details.
  4.  Passwords and PINs – It can feel a bit like beating a dead horse, but strong, unique passwords are the foundation of a positive online shopping experience. Avoid creating accounts with retailers unless absolutely necessary, and make sure to use a secure payment method, like Apple Pay, Android Pay or PayPal, to avoid linking your primary bank account. You can also take this one step further and enable two-factor authentication where possible, adding an extra layer of security to your transactions.
  5.  Software safety first – Keep your devices and operating systems uptodate, and have security software installed and fully operational on all devices. Software updates fix known vulnerabilities, so be sure to install them when prompted. Security software products, such as ESET Internet Security or ESET Mobile Security, include extra features, like Banking & Payment Protection, to keep you safe while shopping online, which can take the stress out of your shopping spree.