Smart shopping tips for Black Friday and Cyber Monday

For many Americans, November invokes images of turkey, pie and time spent with family, but for a great deal of others this time of year also brings up something very

For many Americans, November invokes images of turkey, pie and time spent with family, but for a great deal of others this time of year also brings up something very different, shopping deals. It seems like with each passing year the deals get bigger and the crowds line up earlier than imaginable to cash in on large price drops and once in a lifetime specials. But if you’re gearing up for Black Friday this year, or it’s newer sister holiday, Cyber Monday, you need to be sure you’re keeping security in mind.

Some of the hottest commodities for shoppers on Black Friday are electronics. The prices on phones, tablets and computers are incomparably affordable and could allow you to check off these big-ticket items from your holiday shopping lists. You might now be asking now, where does security come into play with my shopping?

If you’re going to gift a gadget you’re buying on Black Friday, it’s a good idea to be sure you’re gifting a secure one. Just like you wouldn’t purchase a car for someone without its brakes, you shouldn’t give a digital device without its own form of protection. There are a few steps you can take to make sure you’re keeping your loved ones safe:

  1. Research The Product: Before you purchase anything, make sure you’ve done your research and are sure you’re getting a quality product. Only shop with trusted brands in stores that can guarantee the quality of their goods and offer a warranty in case you end up with a faulty or infected device. Furthermore, if you decide to go with a gift card this year instead of an actual device, be sure to check the back of the card to make sure it has not been scratched, exposing the gift card ID number. Attackers have been known to steal this information before the card has been given as a gift, and use the money on the card before the recipient has had a chance to.
  2. Use a Credit Card: When you are ready to make your purchase, be sure to use a credit card instead of a debit card. If you end up purchasing a fraudulent gift, you have a better chance of getting your money refunded if you’ve used a credit card.
  3. Raise Security Awareness: Giving your recipient some basic knowledge about the importance of securing his/her device is extremely important a well. Raising a general-awareness of the different types of attacks and malware that are out there is a great place to start. The more you know, the better protected you are, so make sure you’re sharing the knowledge wealth.
    The more you know, the better protected you are, so make sure you’re sharing the knowledge wealth.
  4. Gift An AV: If you want your loved ones to have the ultimate form of security, you should of course also give them a trusted antivirus with their new gadget as the ultimate form of backup.

Maybe you’re thinking it’s better to avoid the lines this year though, and instead are choosing to join the millions who are shopping Cyber Monday deals online. As you already know, Internet browsing brings its own risks, so keep these tips in mind when taking to the web:

  1. Update Your OS:  Any time a software update is offered to you on any of your devices, you should download it. Updates are released to fix any vulnerabilities that exist, so opting out of them could leave you in harms way.
  2. Ignore Links: As you already know, you should never click on any pop up ads or “context”  links that appear on the websites you’re visiting. These could be malicious and if clicked on, could infect your device. This time of the year, spammy emails and website ads offer amazing deals, however, you have to use your common sense to distinguish between good deals and impossibly sweet offers, with the latter probably being scams.
  3. Double Check Sites: While we’re on the subject of malicious links, you should also be sure to stay on the lookout for fake websites. Even though fraudulent sites are often great imposters of their real deal counterparts, you can often spot warning signs on them upon closer inspection, like spelling errors.
  4. Use A Secure Connection: You shouldn’t ever use public, non-password protected WiFi when going online. You should instead be shopping on your own, secure network to guarantee no attackers steal your personal data. You should also never use public computers when accessing sites that require you to enter personal information.
  5. Use Strong Passwords: Another great way to avoid having your personal information stolen is to use strong passwords when logging into sites. If you’re unsure about what makes a strong password, you can take a look at some examples of the worst choices out there.
  6. Protect Your Financial Data: When it comes time to make your purchase, be sure your financial data is secure. If you’re already using Kaspersky Internet Security, you can use features like Secure Keyboard and Safe Money to keep your transactions guarded against any attacks. To avoid exposing your credit card data to untrusted online shops, you might consider using intermediary services like PayPal to protect yourself as well.

Starting with these basic security precautions when setting out on your shopping ventures should keep you and your loved ones safe, leaving you free to peacefully enjoy the holidays!