Watch out Black Friday. Cyber Monday is nipping at your heels as one of the biggest holiday shopping days. In fact, some estimate that more than 120 million shoppers will do only shopping following Thanksgiving and particularly on Cyber Monday.
Despite the bargains you're bound to find on your favorite online sites, you need to keep safety on the web in mind. Security experts say that Cyber Monday is as attractive to cybercriminals as it is to shoppers looking to score a deal.
Unfortunately, business is booming for cybercriminals. According to the 2012 Norton Cybercrime Report, cybercrime costs $110 billion annually, and claims 556 million victims each year.
When doing your holiday shopping this year, don't fall prey to any online shopping scams. Protect yourself from credit card fraud, identity theft or other cybercrime by following these 5 easy tips for safety on the web when online shopping.
- Search for signs of approval. Trust marks, such as the Norton Secured Seal, show the retailer has been verified and the site is likely free from malware. Also, look for URL to change from Http to Https—the "s" on the end for secure—and the color green in your browser address bar to show a secure site. Always look for either of those before entering your personal information when online shopping.
- Be smart about your password and personal information. When holiday shopping for the first time on a site, you may asked to register, and create a user name and password. When doing the latter, remember: "password" is not an acceptable password. Pay particular attention to the passwords for your email, social networking and online banking accounts, making them as complex and unique as you can. Also, avoid storing your credit card information on retailer websites.
- Don't shop on public or unsecure Wi-Fi networks. Tempting as it may be to purchase a product while using a public Wi-Fi network, these hotspots can be virtual playgrounds for cybercriminals. Instead, use a personal VPN or wait until you're on a protected network before purchasing anything online or logging onto your bank website. This was one of the reasons that we put a password on our personal Wi-Fi network at home—so we could feel secure and safe on the web in the comfort of our own home.
- Avoid spam's hidden surprises. Not all spam is harmless; some spam carries viruses and other malicious threats that may harm your computer. With holiday headlines like "Insane Cyber Monday Deals: 80% off!" or even more subtle but seasonal captions like "Information about your shipped package!," you may be tempted to click, but you'd be wise to junk them instead. Always be cautious of any emails you receive from unknown recipients or that seem just a bit too generous.
- Be secure on mobile devices, too. Threats on mobile devices are on the rise, and becoming increasingly sophisticated. Also, while holiday shopping for apps, beware that many mobile apps now feature unwanted aggressive advertising known as "madware" or mobile adware. Use a security solution and adware tool for your smartphones, tablets, laptops and home computers to keep you protected, whether you're shopping at home or on the move.
For more tech advice, check out Tech Goes Strong and stories by Stewart Wolpin and Barb Gonzalez.
Happy Cyber Monday and safe online holiday shopping!