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November 28, 2013

Black Friday is nigh

Online christmas shopping spikes this weekend.

By Cbr Rolling Blog

Call it what you like, Cyber Monday, Cyber Sunday or Black Friday. It all boils down to this weekend, with a massive spike in retail activity in the run up to Christmas.

Traditionally an American phenomenon, in the days following Thanksgiving, retailers are known to slash prices and offer discounts across a wide range of Christmas wish-list items. Last year £10 billion was shelled out on festive spending alone.

The event is now becoming increasingly popular in Britain, with global outlets such as Apple and Amazon also offering discounts on this side of the pond. Veracode, the mobile security specialists, reported that in 2012, Amazon was shifting 41 gifts per second, with £3.5 million in sales on Cyber Monday.

John Lewis is anticipating a Cyber Sunday on December 1st and predicts this year that more and more spending will be carried out online: less reasons to queue up outside your favourite department store.

Apps will increasingly be used to beat the Christmas rush, whether they are used to track the price of a desired item or make the most of exclusive online deals. During peak commuter times, online retailers are expected to be most busy with users making the most of every minute on their mobile to do their Christmas shopping, says Veracode.

Veracode also warns that in this online rush, shoppers should be aware of cyber security. Hackers may be using the festive period as an opportunity to access data and attack firewalls. Also websites offering cheap deals may not be all they appear to be, for example it might not present you with a 2 step verification process before entering your bank account.

Additionally, security company Rapid7 advises that people follow this online shopping guidelines to stay safe:

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1. Update your browser. Before you get started, make sure your browser is up to date. You can check that by visiting the browser’s site and downloading the latest version. Older versions may have known vulnerabilities that attackers can exploit.

2. Don’t use public networks. Public networks, for example the free WiFi at your local coffee shop or library, are rarely secure, and are a good place for someone to try to interfere with your browsing. If you have the choice to connect to a virtual private network (VPN), you should always do so when connecting to a public network.

3. Be vigilant! With every retailer sending emails for this amazing deal or that incredible offer, attackers have plenty of opportunity to create seemingly credible, yet fake, emails designed to lure you into visiting a compromised website, opening a malicious attachment, or giving them some confidential information. Don’t fall for it! If a deal looks interesting, go directly to the retailer’s homepage through your usual method and you will find the deal from there.

4. Don’t register. Most retail sites will offer you the choice to shop as a guest or register for the site. Shopping as a guest limits the amount of information the site stores about you. The more sites that are storing your personal information, the more you are increasing your exposure and trusting third parties to protect your confidential data.

5. Be complex. If you do register for a site, register with a complex password that includes lower and upper cases, as well as numbers and special characters – the longer the better, so try stringing a few unconnected words together (eggnog may help here). This makes it harder for criminals to guess.

6. Don’t save financial info. Many sites now offer you the choice of whether to store your financial information or not. Don’t do it! Yes, it takes a few extra minutes to put that information again every time you make a purchase, but you are trusting people you don’t know to protect your confidential bank information when you don’t need to.

7. Avoid shady sites. Criminals frequently create plausible-looking websites designed to trick you into giving them your confidential information, particularly financial information. Where possible, stick with well-known or recommended sites. For more specialist items that might lead you to less-known sites, looks for signs the site is a bona fide trader before giving them information, for example if they have a shop on eBay or Amazon.

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