The term “Cyber Monday” was only coined in 2005, but the shopping holiday’s popularity has skyrocketed in recent years. IBM’s Digital Analytics Benchmark Report notes that Cyber Monday sales shot up 30% from 2011 to 2012, representing $1.5 billion in total sales.
Although Cyber Monday offers a convenient way to stock up on holiday goodies, shopping online comes with some risk. With 11.5 millions Americans experiencing identity theft each year, it’s important to keep your online holiday shopping safe.
Tips to Keep Your Cyber Monday Shopping Safe
Seek Reputable Holiday Deals
Internet shopping can be like the Wild West. it is easy for disreputable merchants to set up a website that appears respectable and offers fantastic deals. In general, it’s safest to shop only from retailers you’ve heard of before. For example, when checking out steeply discounted luggage, you can find more at Macy’s than at CheapLuggage.com and be confident in the accuracy of the deal. This doesn’t mean that you’re limited to big box stores. Many local small businesses have jumped on the Cyber Monday bandwagon, offering great holiday shopping deals online too. If a deal seems too good to be true, check out the Better Business Bureau to see if the company has any negative reports.
Update Your Browser and Malware
With hackers constantly trying to find vulnerabilities, web-based companies work around the clock to shore up weaknesses in their products. Update your Web browser before shopping online to ensure that you get the latest safeguards to prevent phishing and spyware. Also, double check your anti-malware or antivirus software to ensure it is up-to-date. McAfee, Norton, and AVG are some of the biggest players in the antivirus software arena, frequently updating their products to increase security.
Check the Encryption Status of a Site
Most information transmitted over the Internet travels through Hypertext Transfer Protocol, indicated by the “http:” in front of a URL. Secure webpages frequently use an encrypted protocol with the abbreviation “https:”. The “s” stands for secure and provides an additional layer of protection to keep your data safe. Whenever you shop online, look for an “https:” site to know that your credit card number and personal information remains secure.
The passwords “123456” and “password” are chosen by thousands of Internet users, according to Smart Planet. This makes your accounts easy to hack, leaving your banking and personal information vulnerable. When signing up for accounts with different sites, use a different password for each. Combining upper and lowercase letters, using symbols, and increasing the length of your passwords makes them harder to crack.
Be Savvy About Shopping from Mobile Devices
Shopping from a smartphone or tablet is an increasingly popular way to score Cyber Monday deals. Although mobile devices increase your ability to monitor ongoing specials, they may leave you vulnerable to security threats. Begin by password protecting your device to prevent someone from getting your information when you’re not paying attention.
Whenever possible, avoid autosaving passwords or credit card information through websites, as that information can be accessed by others in the future. Also remember to use private, secure Wi-Fi connections when making purchases online. For example, conducting your Cyber Monday shopping at Starbucks allows others to access sensitive information over the public Wi-Fi network.