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November  8, 2021


Ding, Dong. Hacker Santa Here With a Delivery

Written by: Carol-Ann Hamilton

cyberconIQ - Facebook live - Holiday Season Online Shopping Safety Tips

According to Finances Online, U.S. Cyber Monday sales alone climbed from $7.9 to $10.8 billion between 2018 and 2020.  This represented a 15.1% increase from 2019 totals by way of CNBC 2020.  Further, it is not just the U.S. that has embraced this growing phenomenon.  Countries like the U.K., Germany, Spain, Italy, Netherlands, and Sweden are jumping aboard.

As we enter a second pandemic holiday season, we can still expect COVID-19 to affect 2021 buying habits.  Even if in-store sales increase, contactless pick-ups, and online sales will constitute a significant source of activity across Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Super Sunday, and Cyber Monday.  Factor in industry wide supply chain shortages plus delivery challenges and you have a potential cyber storm.

Such frenzied shopping is a field day for hackers.  Distracted by festivities, none of us from the young to seniors can afford to let down our guard.

Indeed, the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) warns shoppers via the following tips with which we at cyberconIQ agree:

  • Stay alert to phishing attacks – Avoid clicking on unsolicited email links even if apparently from a recognized brand.  Be wary of attachments.  Instead, open a new browser and type the authentic website’s address.
  • Do your homework on unfamiliar retailers – Consumer Reports suggests searching the Better Business Bureau for prior complaints.  Make a note of their phone number and physical address should there be a problem with your transaction.
  • Check websites for the https and padlock – Be sure the icon looks genuine and is in the appropriate location for your browser.
  • Use a credit card – Unauthorized debit card charges could leave you without funds to pay bills or other necessities.  It’s also a good idea to use a credit card for payment gateways, such as Apple Pay, PayPal, and Google Wallet.
  • Choose shopping apps wisely – Given 37% of sales on Cyber Monday 2020 were made via smartphones (NBC News 2020), look for apps that tell you what they do with your data.
  • Don’t overshare – No retailer needs your date of birth or Social Security number to do business.  Provide as little personal data as possible.
  • Deliver gifts securely – If you won’t be home, send them to your place of work, a mailing center or ask a neighbor to watch out.  Consider requiring a signature as ‘proof’.  If you plan to send a gift card by mail, use a tracking method that is password protected.
  • Verify the sender before opening ecards – Do not open emails with an attachment that ends in “.exe” which could download a virus.
  • Check your online statements – Keep a record of your purchases and copies of confirmation pages.  Compare them to your bank statements.  Report discrepancies immediately.

Beyond the above, we are CYBERology™ experts.  Our services (corporate, academic, and otherwise) rest upon the unique intersection between cybersecurity and psychology.  At cyberconIQ, online safety and long-term cybersecurity are ultimately human issues.  Discover your Cyber Risk Style here.

To learn about our formula called SAVE Yourself from Yourself and more tips to boost your self-awareness tune into our Facebook Live Event on November 17th at 1:00 p.m. Eastern.  Our theme is: “Have a Safe and Joyous Holiday Season”.  Guaranteed, you will be equipped to empower yourself against the threat vectors to which you are most susceptibleBecome an informed consumer all year long!


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Michelle Stagaard
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