If there’s one thing two years of living and working at home has taught South Africans, it’s how to shop online and embrace the convenience it offers, especially for those who are time-strapped or actively seeking out a good deal. And with Black Friday on our doorstep, followed quickly by Cyber Monday, and of course the frenzy that is shopping for the festive season, hundreds of thousands of people will be logging on to shop up a storm.
Unfortunately, more online shopping means additional opportunities for cybercriminals waiting to prey on unsuspecting shoppers. Mweb, one of South Africa’s leading ISPs, offers the following top tips to keep safe while online shopping:
- Beware of fake websites:
During the sales period, websites are often cloned to fool consumers into thinking they are shopping on the legitimate site. The website may appear almost identical to the real site, however, look out for subtle changes such as images that are pixelated, functions on the site may not working properly and double-checking the address of a site to confirm its the real deal.
- Only shop on secure sites:
Before entering any information into a website, always check that the site is safe and secure. You can do this by hovering your mouse over the URL and check the validity of the web address. You should look for a padlock symbol in the address bar and check that the URL begins with a ‘https://’ or ‘shttp://’. Without HTTPS, any data passed on the site is insecure and could be intercepted by cybercriminals.
- If it sounds too good to be true, it is:
Emails or posts on social media promising ‘sweet deals’ should be approached with caution. Clicking on the link could bring you straight to a phishing site or you may end up downloading malware onto your device. It can be hard to distinguish between a real bargain and a fake so it’s best to do your research to find out if the site is credible or go directly to a brand’s website to determine if the deal is real.
- Make sure your password is strong:
Creating a strong password is one of the easiest ways you can protect yourself from being hacked online. It is often tempting to use the same password for multiple accounts, but this puts you at great risk of having your data stolen. It’s best to use a unique username and password for separate online accounts so that should you be phished, cybercriminals will have access to your other online accounts.
- Be careful when using public WiFi:
Using public WiFi to search for the best Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals could open you up to a range of security risks as it requires no authentication to establish a network connection allowing fraudsters direct access to any unsecured devices on the same open network. This means hackers can steal valuable information such as login passwords, credit card info and other personal and financial details. It can also be used to spread malware.
- Keep an eye on your bank statements to spot fraudulent activity:
It’s always worth keeping a close eye on bank statements and making sure your bank account has immediate notifications, to make sure there are no unusual transactions on your account. During Black Friday and Cyber Monday there will be lots of online activity, so keep an eye out for unusual debits from your account that could normally go undetected.
- Make sure your security software is up to date:
You should make sure that all your security software is up to date before you start shopping. This will prevent cybercriminals from gaining access to your computer through vulnerabilities in older and outdated systems.
To find out more about Mweb and the different security products available, click here.