How to shop safely online on Black Friday

During Black Friday cyberattacks on online purchases are about 70% higher than on other days. The general rise of e-commerce tempts hackers to attack more often. However, consumers must not allow the desire to shop to be taken away from them.

“With special offers for a limited time, like those available on Black Friday, many people take the opportunity to get better prices. This often leads to security precautions not being properly considered,” said Jens Bothe, security expert and global director of the OTRS Group. “That is why it is essential, especially in periods of high movement such as Black Friday, to follow the safety tips to avoid unpleasant surprises”. 

As for Luciano Oliveira, general director of OTRS Brasil e Portugal, this Black Friday will be the most digital of all, due to the pandemic. “The consumer market has migrated most of its purchases to the internet and, according to a survey by TracyLocke, 83% of consumers will buy from online stores if they have the best price. Therefore, it is very important to be aware of cyber security so as not to miss out on promotions”. 

Here are the six most important tips the OTRS Group experts have compiled for safe online shopping: 

1. Buy using up-to-date operating systems and applications
Regardless of whether the purchase is made using PCs, smartphones, or tablets, the recommendation is to do it in a safe environment, such as at home, and not in a public place, such as a cafe, which may have an unprotected network. It is also important to buy only with an end device that has the latest operating system and apps with appropriate security updates. After all, if the system is vulnerable to malware, the other security measures won’t be able to do anything to protect shoppers either.

2. Look for certificates and seals of approval
There are trusted seals from various vendors that speak for the corresponding security of an online store, such as “Norton Verified” or “BBB + Accredited”. However, keep in mind that these are just images that cybercriminals can steal and use, so please keep investigating the site before deciding to buy. 

SSL certificates, recognized by the “lock symbol” in the URL bar, prove that the server does indeed correspond to the appropriate online store. To ensure this, the browser checks that the certificate matches the website’s URL is valid and has been signed by a trusted authority. 

To be on the safe side, you should only buy from well-known online merchants or through popular apps. In the case of lesser-known stores, there is a risk that they have just been established and are not always able to immediately provide the desired security services. 

3. Use a secure password for each online store
It is not uncommon for criminals to attempt to obtain passwords in addition to account information to purchase goods at the expense of a third party or to misuse credit card data for other purposes. So make sure you use a different, secure password for each online store.

4. Don’t click on email offers
So-called phishing emails carry special offers that appear to come from online merchants. Sites like Amazon or other well-known sites are simulated and can look very similar. This phenomenon became even more evident from the Covid-19 crisis with the increase in online sales. To make sure this isn’t a scam, you should not click on the link in the email, but go directly to the online store page and check the veracity of the promotion. 

5. Choose a secure payment method
When paying, be sure to choose secure processes. You can approve payment directly in the app or have a secure transaction number sent to your mobile phone in an SMS to secure online credit card payments. 

Another possibility, which is already practiced in several countries, is the use of exclusive digital payment codes. In the banking app, consumers can generate a unique code to be used in place of their credit card number when paying for online purchases. This code expires after purchase. So even if hackers get the code, they can no longer use it to make purchases. 

6. Confirmation of receipt of an order
The buyer must also make sure that the products are exactly described and specified before purchasing. Beware of too many positive reviews; they can also be false. The consumer must always have the receipt of the order confirmed in writing by the online merchant to have security in case of any problems. In addition, the delivery date must be mentioned on the order receipt. If the goods do not arrive on time, unpleasant surprises may occur.

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