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Cyber Monday: Safe Shopping Tips

Be Careful Out There…

Cyber Monday

Following the hubbub of Black Friday comes its other companion: Cyber Monday.  It is so called owing to great numbers of online transactions made that day.  The likes of Amazon, eBay and countless other online retailers make most of their money over November and December.

This year, Black Friday at our stores was a muted affair with more people taking to their web browsers or mobile apps.  The queues outside Manchester Arndale weren’t as big as expected, but the intu Trafford Centre reported healthy figures.  Though quieter than last year, retail commentators think Black Friday was the UK’s most lucrative trading day.

For some stores, Black Friday extended into the weekend, neatly dovetailing onto Cyber Monday.  Today is set to be another record breaker, but Net66 offers one word of warning: “be careful out there”. Even cyberspace isn’t immune to their equivalent of the fellows peddling Nile Trainers or Beets Headphones.

How to Stay Safe on Cyber Monday

  1. Always check the domain name – especially for typos;
  2. Choose a strong password – more cryptic the better;
  3. Avoid those “Free iPad” offers – most of the time they lead to phishing sites;
  4. Refrain from using public wifi to make purchases.

The domain name is an important thing to look at.  If the domain name reads anything other than, for example, www.primark.com, there’s every chance it’s a fake site.  The shyster could be using the fake site to exploit a certain retailer’s goodwill, hoping unsuspecting shoppers are convinced by its supposed authenticity.  To avoid being taken in, and seeing your bank account cleaned out by phishers, we recommend using the Anti-Phishing controls of your web browser.

Alternatively, proprietary or open-source software such as Avira’s or Avast’s internet security programs could be a good move.  Ultimately, it is best to make sure all apps, programs and operating systems are kept right up to date.

Most importantly, make sure the site you are purchasing from has a Secure Domain name.  This is depicted with a padlock (usually left of the web address) in your browser’s address bar.  For example, the site would read https://www.tesco.com instead of http://www.tesco.com.  Sometimes, an e-commerce site could have unsecure pages, though its e-commerce section may be under the aegis of a secure domain.

Then again, any due diligence could be undermined by an ineffective password.  An easy to remember password could be a gift to hackers or phishers, but other ways are possible.  Instead of brobson, consider bR0bs0n7#!.  Or I<3on1ons# instead of iloveonions.  For security’s sake – whether Black Friday, Cyber Monday or Shrove Tuesday – go for a cryptic password.  Add punctuation marks and mix up lowercase letters with uppercase letters.  When you register with an online shopping account, it will tell you if your password is strong enough.

Watch out, shysters about…

Whether you’ve seen them on ad-supported casual games or on the sponsored links of your favourite search engine, you may have come across the “Free iPad” ads.  To be honest, they are too good to be true, and there’s every chance they shall implore you to download some dodgy software or run off with your bank details.

Online confidence tricksters aren’t the only scourge of the internet; some people may be able to pry into your card details or capture your passwords through insecure networks.  You could be reading this in your local Costabucks Nero and using the public WiFi.  Though you may be tempted to buy that outfit for the Christmas do or the latest iPhone, we at Net66 think financial transactions are best over a private network.  Public WiFi’s great for checking the football results, though not for paying your bills or impulse purchases.

Familiarity breeds contentment

With anything as expensive as an iPad, we recommend going to a reputable online retailer.  It could be Amazon.com, or the online portal of your favourite High Street chain store.  As well as the reassurance of dealing with an established chain, no worries about guarantees, debit or credit card payment issues.  In many cases, you could return faulty goods or exchange items at your local store, if you choose the High Street retailer’s site.  Or choose to call in to the store to collect your goods.

Whatever you do this Cyber Monday, we hope you find what you want in the sales. Whether Cyber Monday or otherwise, we hope to take heed of the above tips, brought about by our experiences.

Net66, 30 November 2015.

Cyber Monday image by Kevin Marks, 29 November 2010. (Creative Commons License, Some Rights Reserved).

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