Joe and Izzy couldn’t wait for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. They’d been planning what they were going to get for weeks. It was going to be the perfect start to the Christmas period and their next bonanza! It was simple to design their best online targets – to be the first to the gifts awaiting them.
Sadly, for many people, their shopping plans would be ruined. Joe and Izzy were part of a seriously organised criminal gang who were planning multiple cyber-attacks targeting us at a time when many of us are more vulnerable than usual by chasing the ‘best online deal around’.
This year we are all particularly vulnerable for two reasons. First, many retailers will be looking to offer even bigger and better bargains to recover lost revenues from the 2020 lockdown. Secondly, as we get used to the new working environment that most of us find ourselves in, we need to be particularly vigilant. Our guard will often be down at home as we browse for the best deals, often on work laptops.
On the run-up to Black Friday in 2019, Check Point reported that phishing emails increased by 275%. The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre’s (NCSC) recent research found that 37% of people think that losing money or personal details over the internet is unavoidable. These two stats suggest Joe and Izzy will have another bumper year in 2021!
Yet there are some simple things that we can all do to protect ourselves during Black Friday and Cyber Monday at the end of November:
For any organisation, it would be a good idea at this time of year to provide some simple engaging and immersive reminders for what your employees need to be aware of and do on the run-up to the biggest online shopping spree we’ll ever see. Encourage the speedy reporting of what are suspicious emails and requests. Offer highly targeted, short awareness reminders, little and often. Encourage and share Black Friday and Cyber Monday stories amongst your employees. Remember, effective awareness training campaigns can go a long way to reduce the risk of you managing the damaging consequences of a cyber-attack.
Here are some simple steps we can all take so we can safely enjoy the bargains available:
- Stop, think and be safe: Look out for simple giveaways of phishing scams targeting you with offers too good to be true. For example, if it refers to you as a ‘valued customer’ or ‘friend’, many will have poor spelling, grammar or punctuation and check the senders’ name and URL – does it sound legitimate or are they trying to mimic someone or a retailer you know.
- Don’t give away too much information: Online retailers will need your address and your bank details but don’t provide any further information not required for your purchase. If you can avoid it, don’t create an account on a new site unless you’re going to use that site a lot in the future.
- Use strong passwords: The best way to create a strong but also memorable password that will be extremely difficult to hack is to use three random words with numbers. So, for example, nan91potstar!.
- Stay up to date: Make sure you install the latest software and app updates to combat ever-evolving cyber-attacks.
Let’s work together to make sure Joe and Izzy don’t have the Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or Christmas they’d planned.