JM | Nov 23, 2022

Take it from the expert: Essential online shopping cybersecurity tips to use this Black Friday

Mikala Johnson

Mikala Johnson / Our Today

Dwayne Brown, senior manager – Cybersecurity at The Jamaica National Group (Photo: Contributed)

The countdown has begun for one of the most anticipated days of the year – Black Friday.

The annual event, recognised in the United States as the day after Thanksgiving, is known for its sweeping discounts to kick start the Christmas shopping season.

Many individuals across the world are eager to cash in on some of the best deals, come Friday.

For most shoppers they will be making their purchases entirely online, which is a bit of a concern, especially during this time of the year.

Unfortunately, the significant rise in demand for online shopping this period provides the perfect opportunity for cybercriminals to launch their online scams.

The major problem is that cybercriminals are targeting online retailers and shoppers because a lot more people are taking their shopping online.

But, with cybersecurity threats at an all-time high, how can shoppers stay cyber safe?

Our Today spoke with Dwayne Brown, senior manager – Cybersecurity at The Jamaica National Group, who shared some essential online shopping cybersecurity tips to keep you safe from cyber attacks this Black Friday.

“People need to be careful of emails offering deals, especially the emails claiming to be Black Friday deals. As Jamaicans, we tend to gravitate towards deals. My advice is, if it’s too good to be true, then it probably isn’t. So, you have to be careful of deals,” Brown said.

For those who will be making their purchases from the comfort of their home, the cybersecurity expert urges them to be cautious of the retailer and website they use.

“Be careful of the seller or the retailer. When you go on eBay or Amazon, at least you can look up the sellers ranking or rating, whether they are five star or two star or relatively unknown. I personally buy from people who have been around or who have established a reputation. It is also important to check to see how long the website has been up,” he continued.

With the advent of social media, online shopping has branched out to where people are now making purchases via social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook.

Brown encourages shoppers to take precautions when it comes to the platforms they choose to shop on.

“It is a little tricky with social media, where the person is offering to sell goods from their social media pages. I think what you can do to safeguard yourself in this situation is to look for testimonials from customers. Because, the last thing you’d want to do is to purchase an item from a seller and actually make your deposit and not receive the product.”

He also pointed that, during this period, there is usually an increase in cybersecurity threats.

“This is where the guys go to work, this is their peak period,” Brown said.

There are certain precautions that shoppers can take to significantly reduce their chances of being scammed.

Fake website

Shoppers are often told to be aware of fake websites. Here is what you should look for to tell that a website is fake:

  • The webpage may contain misspelled links, images may be pixilated, the content will often be sub-standard, and website functions may not work correctly.
  • Before you click on any links, hover the cursor over the link, and make sure that it shows the real destination URL.

Use credit cards

It is always recommended to use credit cards instead of debit cards for online shopping and security as the former offers additional protection.

In case you made any fraudulent purchase with your credit card, there is a good chance that your bank will reimburse you promptly.

“Make sure you review your credit statements and ensure you get alerts from your bank each time a purchase is made. So, if the card has been compromised, you have the opportunity to enquire or to investigate,” Brown shared.

Use a Secure Network

When shopping online, ensure that you use a secure internet connection, either your phone’s cellular network or a private Wi-Fi connection, to browse the internet.

According to Brown persons should never use public Wi-Fi when making online purchases.

Beware of Social Media Scams

Social media scams have become prevalent on Black Friday. Hackers use social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, to make malicious posts and entice online customers to like and share their posts and click notorious links.

Be cautious when it comes on to clicking on social media posts, mainly the ones about Black Friday deals.

Despite the increasing threat of cyberattacks and data breaches, there are several ways you can secure yourself online. Staying vigilant and proactive while shopping online this Black Friday can help keep your personal information and finances safer. Happy shopping!

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