Black Friday: Deals Or Steals?

Black Friday DealsReady for Black Friday? You aren’t the only one. The holiday season is a prime opportunity for cyber criminals and scam artists looking to steal your personal information.

Last year the National Retail Federation reported that over 200 million shoppers visited stores and websites during Black Friday and spent over $45 million. This was an increase of over 17 million shoppers the year before. This year is on pace for roughly $47 million.

But it isn’t just Friday you need to be worried about. Last year, Cyber Monday entered the record books as the largest online purchase day. Online retailers saw a 28 percent increase in sales with consumers spending about $1 billion.

Businesses especially need to be cautious about Cyber Monday. The post-holiday productivity slump is often a prime opportunity for employees who are bargain hunting for lucrative deals.

How can you avoid being a victim?

  1. Be careful who you trust. Even seemingly reputable vendors can be malware in disguise. Don’t click a link or open a file attachment that seems suspicious just because it appears to be from someone you know.
  2. If it is too good to be true, it probably is. This year’s trend is fake iTunes gift certificates being distributed via email which are actually malware-laden file attachments.
  3. Don’t rely solely on a traditional “black” anti-virus protection. Consider investing in an application whitelisting solution. By only allowing approved applications to run, an application whitelisting solution will help prevent against targeted attacks and zero day threats.
  4. Be cautious of QR codes. Retailers everywhere are jumping on the mobile device trend by using QR codes in their ads. Unfortunately, so are hackers.  Some are even going as far as using a sticker to replace the original QR code. Consider getting a QR code reader app that allows you to preview the code first.

Happy shopping!

Kelly Batke

Kelly is the self-confessed technology laggard who works in technology. The good news is she is slowly reaching late adopter status. Kelly enjoys learning and writing about the psychology behind technology—as in why do we buy what we buy, and how does that impact our environment?