Six tips to protect yourself while shopping for Black Friday deals online

Considered the official start to the holiday shopping season, Black Friday is when consumers can get doorbuster deals. Retailers entice early birds to take advantage of deeply discounted items flying off the shelves.

In recent years, Black Friday sales have migrated online, helping consumers to take advantage of discounted shopping from home. Cyber Monday is the marketing term for the Monday after Black Friday and was created to persuade people to continue shopping online.

At the beginning of November, cybersecurity company Appthority learned that developers had accidently coded access credentials for Twilio, a Cloud communications tool. The compromised code could be used by hackers to infiltrate developer credentials and gain access to service-related data. For example, cyber criminals posing as developers could access texts, call logs, and voice recordings for every app. The app developers’ mistakes compromised:

  • 85 Twilio accounts
  • The AT&T Navigator app that comes pre-installed on many Android phones
  • Several other navigation apps
  • Data from 180 million Android and Apple smartphone users

At this point, consumers can do nothing to protect the compromised Twilio data.

Online shoppers can take extra measures to protect themselves

With the surge of online shopping going on this holiday weekend comes an increased risk of your personal data being stolen by hackers. Here is some advice on how to protect yourself online.

  1. Install the latest security updates – Operating systems either make automatic updates or prompt you to install security updates. Keep security updates in mind if you are working on older systems, and make sure they are up to date. Security updates are designed to protect your network from the latest threats, and deliver patches to repair existing vulnerabilities.
  2. Control app security permissions – When installing and using consumer or banking apps, make sure you know what permissions you’re granting them as a user. For example, some apps track your location for as long as you’re logged in. Others have access to sensitive data such as photos. For iPhone or Android users, you can view each respective app and the permissions you’ve granted. Disable the ones that could put your consumer data at risk.
  3. Sign out of your accounts when finished – Most online retailers will give you an option to create an account to make checkout and order reviewing easier. When you have finished a transaction, it’s best to log out so you are less vulnerable to hacks. When you have finished posting pictures of the latest big-screen TV you bought at Best Buy, make sure you sign out of your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts.
  4. Safeguard your webcam – Cyber criminals can infiltrate your webcam and remotely watch your every step during Black Friday. You can fix this by putting a piece of tape over your webcam. You can also download free software that alerts you whenever someone is trying to access your webcam. OverSight for Apple is free, and monitors mic and webcam activity for intruders.
  5. Maintain strong passwords – Don’t use the same password twice. Don’t use easy-to-remember word strings or important dates such as your birthday. Include combinations of numerals, symbols, and uppercase and lowercase letters. Seek websites that use two-factor authentication, such as sending you a text verification code to input as part of the login process.
  6. Ensure the website is secure – Websites that are secure will have a padlock symbol in front of the URL; the web address will also begin with “https://.” Websites must have certain security measures in place to be padlock-accredited. This will ensure you are receiving an extra level of personal data protection.

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