Black Friday: 5 tips to keep your online purchases secure

23 Nov 2015

Black Friday is but a few short days away and, with Irish consumers set to top out at a massive €109m in purchases in the 24-hour period, it’s probably best you keep your online shopping as secure as possible.

Of course, it’s not just Irish consumers counting down the hours until Black Friday, with US shoppers expected to plunge $3bn into the extravaganza – Cyber Monday, too, follows shortly afterwards.

And, for those who aren’t that into queueing up, squashing their way through aisles and battling for that last smart TV, online is the best way to go.

Better still, the evolution of smartphones – and apps – means that buying can be done from pretty much anywhere, at any time.

Nitinn Bhandari, CEO of Skyfire and SVP of products for Opera Software Solutions, warns of cybercrime opportunities amid the euphoria.

“Cybercrime, by way of credit card theft, costs consumers billions of dollars a year,” said Bhandari. “Online shopping numbers radically increase every year, making the months leading up to the holidays a playground for cyber thieves.”

Google recently wrote about the rise of mobile use in commerce, for both researching products and making purchases. It is here, though, that shoppers should be careful, with Bhandari listing five simple steps to increase your security.

  1. Consumers should be careful not to expose their computer or mobile screen to the eyes of strangers, especially when a credit card number is visible.
  2. Online shoppers need to keep their computer updated with the latest malware protection. Even if a consumer conducts all transactions on a secure site, it is possible for the computer to be hacked or to be running malware, which means all data entered can still be stolen.
  3. Be aware of internet connections. Using a public Wi-Fi service without encryption gives anyone the ability to hack into the connection and collect a user’s information.
  4. Pay close attention to shopping websites. Many websites do not properly protect the data they collect. Shoppers can know the site is safe if it has a green lock in the address bar, which signifies the company has met strict standards with respect to protecting data they collect from customers.
  5. Finally, shoppers should frequently monitor bank statements for suspicious transactions. Many times, cyber theft is done in small amounts in order not to draw suspicion.

Number 5 image via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic