Black Friday has become one of the landmark dates in the UK’s retail calendar. A trend that first began in the United States, it’s grown enormously in popularity on these shores, to the point where total spending regularly exceeds £7.5 billion.
That includes both online and offline purchases, and there’s no denying that shopping in the digital space has become increasingly commonplace. Online shopping particularly rose in the wake of the lockdowns caused by the coronavirus pandemic. It certainly offers greater convenience, with the vast majority of products and services available at the simple touch of a button.
But there are pitfalls to shopping online, too – and among those is the threat of cyber security breaches. With millions of us searching for that unmissable bargain come Black Friday, hackers and criminals will see an opportunity to exploit any vulnerabilities and access our sensitive data. With that in mind, here are a few tips to protect yourself.
Only Use Secure Sites
You can check this by looking at the site’s URL. There should be a padlock symbol at the start of the address bar, and the URL itself should begin with ‘https.’ This is a sign that the address is encrypted and secured. If it’s missing, you could be leaving your data open to being accessed by hackers or others with malicious intentions.
Connect To A Virtual Private Network
Shopping on the go on an iPhone is perfect for those with a busy lifestyle who may not have the time to scour the high-street stores for bargains. However, if you are tackling Black Friday via your handheld device, be sure to avoid public Wi-Fi networks. Also, connect to a VPN for your iPhone to create a virtually impregnable data tunnel to keep the hackers at bay.
Pay With A Credit Card
If you can, make any purchases using a credit card rather than a debit card. The former offers greater protection and, if you do fall victim to fraud and payments are made without your consent, you should be able to recover your money more quickly.
Use Strong Passwords
When purchasing online, you may be required to register or sign up before you can continue. If that is the case, be sure to use a strong password that includes a variety of letters, numbers, special characters, and casing. It can be tempting to use the same one for every account, but that can leave you more vulnerable to a cyber attack.
Be On The Lookout For Scams
Around Black Friday, you’re likely to receive promotional emails promising amazing deals. While there are major discounts to be had at this time of year, it’s important to be wary of anything that looks too good to be true. Any messages that come from suspicious-looking senders, are devoid of official branding, or that encourage you to click on links or open attachments, are best consigned straight to the trash folder.