Helpful Tips to Keep Your Business Cyber Safe During the Holiday Shopping Season

Annual online holiday shopping events, like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Singles Day, and Chinese New Year, give online consumers from all over the world a chance to spend—and save—billions when buying gifts for themselves and loved ones. 

Unfortunately, cybercriminals also use these occasions to take advantage of those who are too distracted by deals and discounts even to realize they're at risk. 

Because scammers victimize countless online shoppers during these annual sales events, it's essential to know how to protect yourself and your business.

These cyber-safe holiday online holiday shopping tips can help. 

Tip One: Consider the Source 

Scammers succeed by tricking online shoppers into thinking they're legitimate. When you come across an incredible deal online, you should first consider where it originated. 

If it arrived in your email spam folder, be wary. Many cybercrimes start with phishing emails that mimic big-name retailers and usually end up here. Here's where it pays to be a skeptic!

Ads or offers that come to you through social media platforms should also be treated with skepticism. Scammers use sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to disguise their efforts. 

Rather than clicking on these potentially harmful offers, try finding them on the legitimate seller's website.

Tip Two: Know the Signs 

Cyber thieves continually refine their phishing emails, fake ads, and fraudulent websites to look more convincing. However, there are signs you can look for to spot them. 

If the sender's email address doesn't reflect the company name, it's most likely a fake. Spelling and grammar mistakes are another red flag. 

While holiday offers generally last only a short time, deals with an extremely short window of opportunity and a sense of urgency usually invite trouble. 

When visiting online retailers, look for the 'https' prefix, the word 'secure,' a padlock icon, or a combination of these in the title bar. The bar may also appear green in some web browsers if the site is verified secure. 

If you have doubts about the company, an online search with a reputable search engine, like Google or Bing, can reveal if it's legitimate. 

Tip Three: Browser Beware 

While anyone can become the victim of an online scam, there are things you can do to reduce the chances of this happening to you. 

For starters, avoid using public WiFi when making purchases. These networks are easy to hack, making personal information, like credit card or bank account numbers, accessible to scammers. And cyber thieves monitor public WiFi networks frequently. Instead, go directly to the sites you want to shop by typing in the web address.

Hyperlinks in emails or clickable ads on social media can lead to fake sites that scammers have explicitly created to harvest personal account information. Hovering over the link or ad with your mouse will usually reveal the actual address. If it's different from what you expect, move on.

If you're using a shared computer, use a private browser window for online shopping. Doing so ensures someone else who uses the same device can't track your history and gain access to a stored credit card or purchase information.  

If you're using a work device, delay any research or purchases until you can do it from a personal computer. This way, a successful phishing attack won't put your business at risk. 

Tip Four: Keep Your Emotions in Check 

A fantastic online deal is cause for excitement—and if the offer is good for a short time, FOMO—fear of missing out—can lead you to act without thinking through the consequences.  

If you let your emotions overtake you, you're playing into the hands of scammers. So, thinking with your head and not your heart is essential. 

Slow down and make sure you know the deal is legitimate. Don't take chances if you have doubts about the seller or offer. Most importantly, keep a cool head and don't get caught up in the hype.  

In Conclusion

No holiday deal or discount is worth it if it makes you the victim of a scam. Protect yourself and your business by keeping these helpful tips in mind.

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