9 Ways to Shop Safely Online this Cyber Monday

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Thanksgiving is fast approaching, which means that holiday
shopping is right around the corner, kicking off on Black Friday followed by
Cyber Monday.

Cyber Monday was coined back in 2005 by a marketer to
influence the masses to partake in online shopping. Back then, online shopping
was much rarer, as personal computers weren’t as much of a “permanent fixture”
in the home and slower internet speeds affected people’s experiences.

Flash forward to 2019, however, and online shopping has
become the norm. But, as the popularity of online shopping continues to grow,
so do the threats that come with it. With so many marketing emails, it’s incredibly
easy for hackers to slip in a malicious email and go unnoticed.

Without further ado, here’s a quick list of tips to help you stay safe on Cyber Monday, and throughout all your holiday shopping…

Use a secure computer

A computer that isn't protected by antivirus software is
more likely to be compromised by malware. All data entered into or transmitted
from the computer is at risk, including all forms of personally
identifiable information, like credit card numbers and bank accounts. Be sure
to keep the operating system and all internet-facing apps updated to the latest
software versions.

Use a secure connection

When shopping online, your data can be at risk, especially
during transactions. Web protocols such as https encrypt
communications, so you should always look for the https lock symbol in the
URL when making an online purchase.

Search for deals on retailer sites, not on
search engines

Hackers often infiltrate search results with malicious or deceptive links. Searching for the best tech deals? Run a search on the Best Buy, Amazon or GameStop sites rather than on Google.

Use trusted vendors

Any website can be attacked by hackers but limiting your
shopping to established and trusted vendors limits your exposure. Bookmark the
most trusted online retail sites to make sure you don't get redirected to

Be on alert for malicious emails

Cyber Monday features a lot of incredible, legitimate deals offered by trusted retailers. But, cybercriminals will prey on the shopper's desire for the lowest prices and will try to slip in a lot of fake deals, especially via email. Keep an eye out for malicious emails that show any of the red flags (pictured below).

It also may be a good idea to think about investing in an additional spam filter for your email, so you can prevent these malicious emails from reaching your inbox in the first place.

Review credit card and bank statements regularly
during the shopping season

Malware can infect credit card readers in stores, and
unscrupulous cashiers often steal card numbers as well. If you find a
transaction that doesn't match your purchases, your account may have been
compromised. If so, contact your bank or card issuer.

Don't use debit cards online

You've got far less protection against fraud on a debit card
than you do with a credit card. Stick to credit cards when shopping online. If
you absolutely must use a debit card, use the prepaid kind with a set spending

Use unique passwords and login information for
every site you visit

Yes, it's a pain to remember all your passwords. But, if one of them is stolen, a cybercriminals will try using it on other websites. Passwords should be as long as possible and contain a mix of upper- and lower-case characters, numbers, punctuation and symbols. Passwords also shouldn't be reused, especially for any website that handles your money.

Never install software on your mobile device
from a website link or code

Software from locations other than the device's official "store," such as Apple's iTunes App Store or the Google Play Store, has a greater chance of being malicious. Even then, check to make sure that the app developer is the official retailer—a lot of Amazon-related apps in Google Play have no connection to Amazon.