Challenges always seem to present opportunities for innovation, and we’ve seen our fair share of game-changers in 2020. In the same way, holiday shopping has looked quite different this year as we all work to maintain social distance in what is usually a pretty crowded setting. Depending on where you live, you might not even be able to shop in person.

To help minimize the spread of the pandemic, many major retailers are offering deals and specials online in the weeks and even months leading up the Holidays. It seems their efforts to prevent seas of people clambering over each other for heavily discounted items has worked: Google’s US Shopper Survey found that 75% of respondents plan to buy more online this year than last year.

With so many shoppers making purchases online rather than in-store, cyber-security becomes a major concern. Attackers are upping their efforts over the holiday season, making it more important than ever for businesses and consumers alike to stay vigilant and protect their data and personal information.

7 Tips to keep you secure while shopping:

  1. Turn on Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) whenever you can: MFA refers to those one-time login codes that you’re required to enter alongside your typical login information (username and password). While it can be an annoyance, but the small extra effort makes it significantly more difficult for cyber criminals to access your accounts, even if they were to figure out your password.
  2. Clean Up your Browser’s Auto-fill: Today, your web browser (Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Edge, etc.) automatically store your passwords, credit card numbers, and addresses. In many cases, these functions are turned on by default, and could be a security risk. Review how much personal data your browser has saved; you might find that you want to delete some of it.
  3. Look for HTTPS: Before you enter any personal information, especially credit card numbers, make sure the website URL turns green, or begins with HTTPS, not HTTP. HTTPS indicates that your online session is secured and that encryption is being used to protect your personal info.
  4. Learn and Understand the ‘Lock’ features offered by your credit card or bank: Most banking apps have a “quick lock” option that enables you to freeze and unfreeze your account or card instantly. If an emergency arises (such as thinking you may have entered your information into an unsecured site), you can block access right away. Look into what your bank or credit card offers.
  5. Learn to spot phishing attempts and scams: You’re certain to receive a large number of email advertisements, some of which will offer unbelievably good deals. Beware, as these could be phishing attempts that direct you to a bogus website built to look and feel like the real website, in an effort to collect your personal data.
  6. Research businesses and sellers that are unknown to you: If you have never purchased from them before, it’s a good policy to look into them before entering that credit card info. Check customer reviews on google or have a look at complaints filed with the Better Business Bureau.
  7. If in doubt, don’t give it out: If you’re doubtful as to whether a website or seller is legitimate, your best option is to shop elsewhere. Remember, if it seems too good to be true, it is too good to be true. This notion seems to hold true with a lot of the cyber scams we see today.

If you are one of the millions of shoppers who plan to click for holiday gifts this year, don’t let the bargains cloud your judgement! Cyber-criminals see this time as an opportunity to profit off your mistakes. This doesn’t have to happen to you – you can still shop online and take advantage of shopping deals with peace of mind by following these tips and being vigilant.

From all of us at Lark Security, have a Happy and Safe Holiday Season!