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Early warnings for Black Friday 2023

| Supplier news

As we head towards November 2023, South African retailers and shoppers will be starting preparations for Black Friday – an event that has become one of the biggest shopping days on the South African calendar.

While traditionally a retail day in the United States for retailers to clear old stock ahead of the festive period, Black Friday has become a big South African sales day where greater focus has been placed on stocking up on necessities, gifts and other specials ahead of the holiday period.

Black Friday started in South Africa in the online space but has since spread to brick-and-mortar retail as well. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, digital and online sales have become big channels for all types of stores, however.

According to Andrew Whitaker, managing director of Altron Security, it’s this move that has made many consumers vulnerable to scams and security threats associated with the day.

As Black Friday and Cyber Monday approach, the excitement for incredible deals and exclusive discounts is palpable. However, in an increasingly digital world, it’s essential to prioritise online security.

“Black Friday, scheduled for November 24th, brings a surge in online transactions, and with it, an escalated risk to your personal and sensitive information,” Whitaker said.

“The convenience of online shopping has become a lifeline for many, but it has also introduced
new vulnerabilities.

“Cybercriminals have adapted, with impersonation and phishing attacks becoming the most significant threats during shopping seasons.”

The expert warned shoppers to get ahead of any security threats in the coming months and provided some guidelines on how to build a solid defence against any would-be fraudsters.

Stay Vigilant and Keep Software Updated

Modern browsers and apps excel at detecting scams in real-time, whether they’re phishing emails luring you to counterfeit shopping or banking sites or unauthorised logins on your accounts.

To maximise this built-in security, ensure all your software is up-to-date, including the latest security patches.

“If you’ve been postponing updates on your devices, now is the time to get them done before Black Friday,” Whitaker said.

Navigating the Sea of Special Offers

During Black Friday, you’ll likely receive a flood of special offers through email and social media. Exercise caution when clicking on deals from unfamiliar sources. Always verify that the link redirects you to the
expected website.

While there’s no foolproof way to avoid dodgy links entirely, you can minimise the risk by checking the authenticity of the sender’s social media account or email address.

“Even with up-to-date browsers, it’s wise to remain vigilant as you browse; no discount is worth exposing yourself to scammers,” he said.

Password Hygiene and Account Security

Convenience might tempt you to set up a new shopping account quickly using your usual password.

However, sharing the same password across multiple accounts can lead to a cascade of security vulnerabilities.

If you’re using the latest versions of Chrome and Safari, you’ll notice they now offer strong password suggestions when you encounter a password field.

“If you plan to shop at unfamiliar outlets, set up accounts in advance to avoid rushing when creating new passwords and entering sensitive information into your browser,” Whitaker said.

Stay Ahead of Password Breaches

Data breaches and password exposure are prevalent in today’s digital landscape.

Cybercriminals frequently gain access to passwords through these breaches. Take proactive steps to check if your email password has been compromised using services like “Pwned.”

Password managers like LastPass can simplify this process. Additionally, consider implementing multifactor authentication and biometrics to bolster your security defenses.

These advanced measures provide an extra layer of protection against unauthorised access to your accounts.

The Crucial Role of SSL Certificates

One often-overlooked yet critical aspect of online security is SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificates.

These certificates encrypt communication between your device and websites, making it extremely challenging for attackers to intercept or tamper with data in transit.

Beyond encryption, SSL certificates also validate website authenticity, ensuring you interact with genuine, trustworthy sources.

When shopping online, trust secure websites and exercise caution when encountering deals or websites that appear too good to be true.

Always look for ‘https’ in the URL as a sign of a secure connection.

Stay safe

“In an era rife with cyber threats, your digital security should be a top priority. Stay vigilant, maintain strong password hygiene, embrace multifactor authentication and biometrics, acknowledge the significance of SSL certificates, and scrutinise websites for security indicators,” the security expert said.

“As Black Friday and Cyber Monday excitement builds, remember that safeguarding your identity is
paramount.”

Whitaker said that cyber threats are continually evolving, and education and proactive security measures are the most reliable allies for consumers.

“Stay secure, stay informed, and savour worry-free online shopping experiences – not only during Black Friday, but throughout the year. Your identity is worth safeguarding,” he said.

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