Online Shopping and IT Security

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are melding into a whole week or more of shopping opportunities. Retailers are changing the way they handle Black Friday during a pandemic. The biggest change is most large retailers will not be open on Thanksgiving this year. Instead, national retail chains are pushing consumers online and releasing deals throughout the month. According to, most retailers are playing down or not releasing their Black Friday deals in an attempt to encourage consumers to shop online.

These steps are an absolute necessity with COVID cases on the rise, but they present an open season for hackers to do damage online. Below are some tips to avoid getting scammed in this online buying atmosphere.

Beware of Phishing emails

A good, general rule is do not click on links in emails. If the deal is genuine, you should see the same information when you log into the retailer with your username and password. Hackers can make phishing emails look extremely authentic, even mirroring an email sent out by the retailer. If you see a deal you are interested in, go to the retailer’s website and look for it there.

Update Retailer Passwords

We understand the password for your Lowes account that you used one time may not be a 13+ character high quality password. Criminals are looking for easy accounts to log into and steal any information they can. This is a good time to update weak passwords, and turn on Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), or Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) if the service offers them as an option.

Use a Credit Card Instead of a Debit Card

Most credit cards offer protection for charges against a stolen card or information. Debit cards do not have the same protection and are typically linked to a bank account. Your credit card information could be stolen from a company breach, even though you took every precaution. If card information is stolen, you have more protection from a credit card than a debit card.

Remember hackers are watching the news just like we are. The latest phishing scams we have been tracking were based on information about a COVID vaccine. Criminals are now shifting their focus to Black Friday and Cyber Monday scams as retailers begin to send out deals. Now is the time to be a smart shopper. If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Keep your IT hat on while shopping online this holiday season.

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Posted by Charles Wright