Well, here we are. Now that we made it through the craziness that is Black Friday, Cyber Monday is finally upon us. And while today is billed as the best day of the year for nabbing awesome online deals you can score in your PJ’s, there are some added risks that come with putting all your credit cart info out on the Interwebs. Today more than ever, protecting yourself — and your all-important credit card info — from cyber attacks is super important. And while it may seem like we are powerless against tech-savvy hackers, there are plenty of things you can do to avoid cyber attacks this Cyber Monday.
Whether or not you're all gung-ho about the day itself, Cyber Monday is here to stay. But chances are, you're probably participating. After all, a recent National Retail Federation (NRF) survey found that half of millennials will participate in the unofficial holiday. And with price cuts across the board, who can blame us? The NRF claims that some 103 million people did some online shopping this weekend and 121 more will be filling their virtual shopping carts on Monday. And it’s certainly changing the tides on our post-Thanksgiving shopping: 133.7 million people shopped during the four-day weekend — more than a 5 percent drop from last year — according to Prosper Insights & Analytics.
But with more opportunities to shop comes an increased risk that all your private account details can be compromised. And while it may sound like fear mongering, the anti-malware company EnigmaSoftware.com claims there was a 40 percent spike in cyber attacks on shoppers in 2013 and 2014 during Cyber Monday alone. “The attackers know that there are more people online, so there will be more attacks,” said Christopher Budd, Trend Micro’s global threat communications manager told The Guardian. “Cyber Monday is not a one-day thing, it’s the beginning of a sustained focus on attacks that go after people in the holiday shopping season.”
Cybersecurity experts speaking with The Guardian highlighted several ways that you can protect yourself this Cyber Monday — and the other 364 days — including:
1. Mix Up Your Passwords
Though we're all pretty guilty of using the same password for several accounts. It's not the safest practice because someone intercepts one of our passwords they have all of our passwords. So, now is a good time to change up your logins with complex passwords that you can hopefully remember!
2. Enable Two-Step Authenitication
It may seem like an inconvenience, but two-step verification is a great way to make extra sure that nothing is happening to your accounts. Even if a hacker has your password and attempts to login, a text or call will be sent to your phone that ensures that it's truly you that is in control of your info.
3. Only Download Apps From Official Sources
Cyber Monday doesn't only have to be enjoyed on your laptop. With that said, hackers can get a hold of your data — even on your phone. A great way to prevent this is by only downloading applications available through the Google Play Store (Android), Apple App Store, and Amazon App Store. That way you know they have been checked and deemed safe by an official, trusted source.
4. Don't Click On Suspicious Links
If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Whether it be on social media or email, it's always good to take a second to investigate where this link is pointing to and if the deal seems reasonable. Taking a step back can save you from a huge headache!
5. Install Anti-Spyware and Anti-Malware
At the end of the day, you can only be so diligent. Sometimes you'll hit a suspicious link and instantly regret it. But fear not — anti-spyware and anti-malware software can catch viruses and other potentially harmful data that would otherwise ruin our shopping experience. (But try not to hit that sketchy link.)
Now that you're armed with the basics, I think you know what comes next — time to throw on those PJs and get shopping.
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