SME Survival Guide: Why online criminals love Cyber Monday just as much as you

Monday 26 November is the 332nd day of the year, meaning there are just four weeks to go until Christmas. But, even more newsworthy than that, is that it’s also Cyber Monday 2018.

The floodgates will now officially be open for 24 hours of bargain hunting at all major retailers, but if you’re looking to capitalise on these flash sales too – as a buyer or a retailer – it’s important to keep an eye out for the digital criminals lurking in the shadows. Here’s why they love Cyber Monday just as much as the rest of us…

Phishing for presents

Let’s face it, you’ve probably spent the last month deleting – or flagging to revisit – a seemingly endless stream of marketing emails from some of your favourite brands. You might have even been lucky enough to receive an e-card from a supplier or customer. But, it’s this kind of content you really need to take note of.

As inboxes burst with festive messages and money-saving offers from every corner of cyber-space, it’s hard to tell which emails are from legitimate senders, and which might be impersonating someone you know. And, let’s admit it, your average cyber-criminal isn’t going to be worried about GDPR compliance.

To protect yourself, take a second to inspect your message for any tell-tale signs of a phishing email. Does the email address look genuine? Are there any basic spelling or grammatical mistakes? If you’re unsure, never click any links, instead visit the website of the retailer directly.

Mind the app

A new addition to the hacker toolkit in recent years has been smartphone apps. Consumers who purchase through their phone or tablet might only download certain apps for better functionality during the sale season.

Copycat apps constantly look to cash in on the annual shopping frenzy, seeking to trick people into entering their login credentials or credit card details as they hunt for the best deals. Keep your wits about you when downloading from your app store too, making sure that any purchases are verified. You can do this by checking the logo and wording is correct and not just designed to mimic your favourite brands.

Better safe than sorry

You wouldn’t leave your front door wide open, so why do the same with your PC?

Before you even start flashing the cash, it’s a good idea to conduct your annual IT security health check. Make sure to update all your web-enabled devices’ security settings and see that your firewall and anti-virus software is up-to-date.

If you have employees who you suspect might be swapping their lunchtime stroll for a spot of online shopping, why not make the most of our free cyber security and network assessment to make sure your SME is protected in the run-up to the festive season.

The hacker who stole Christmas

While you may not recognise the name ‘Magecart’, this clandestine network of credit-card skimming groups has already targeted the likes of Ticketmaster, Newegg and British Airways. If you transact any business through a website or app, it’s imperative your SME is protected from any potential vulnerabilities.

If you’d like further advice on how to protect your IT infrastructure against malicious activity this Cyber Monday, contact our friendly team of experts about conducting a customised IT audit!

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