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November 23rd, 2011

Survival Tips for Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving and the busiest shopping day of the year, starts at midnight November 25th with mega-sales running throughout the weekend. Cyber Monday, the online retail equivalent to Black Friday, is the time when many consumers, who didn’t want to fight the crowds over Thanksgiving weekend or failed to find what they were looking for, shop online that Monday from home or work.

“For our US friends especially, this weekend is when retailers, offline and online, offer the best deals of the year,” said Jindrich Kubec, senior virus analyst at the AVAST Virus Lab. “It’s also when cybercriminals become hyperactive with scams and fraudulent offers.”

This year retailers are prolifically using their Facebook pages, coupon websites like RetailMeNot.com, group-buying sites like Groupon and LivingSocial, and aggregator sites like TheBlackFriday.com and CyberMonday.com to reach consumers with advance promotions as well as preparing special e-commerce deals for online shoppers. But these sources of money-saving deals can bring you identity-stealing scams.

“All the hype builds into a shopping frenzy – which sometimes replaces common sense,” warns Kubec. “Cybercrooks want to relieve you of your holiday spending money. If a deal is too good to be true…well, you know the rest.”

Here are a few Common Sense Survival Tips for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, plus a deal of our own to keep you and your family protected all year.

Shop at sites you trust

Scammers use tricks like misspellings, known as typosquatting, to fool busy shoppers. (How many times have you typed googel instead of google?) They also manipulate search engines for higher rankings and swap domains (like .net instead of .com.)

Tip: Instead of using search engines to find deals, use an aggregator like CyberMonday.com  or go directly to the retailer’s website. And glance at the web address to make sure you are where you should be.

Shop at secure websites

Personal information can be stolen in transit by spyware such as keyloggers and via infected websites through insecure internet connections. Secure sites use encryption technology, which scrambles information like your credit card number, when transferring information from your computer to the online retailer.

Tip: Look for https://  in front of the web address. The “s” that is displayed after “http” indicates that the site is secure. You can also look for a closed padlock displayed at the bottom of your screen.

Use strong passwords

Hackers can crack weak passwords and find ways to access your email or IM messages, your bank accounts, contact lists and files on your computer. Minimize your vulnerability with strong passwords when banking and shopping online.

Tip: Create strong, hard-to-crack passwords by using a variety of upper-case and lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols. If you are tired of remembering multiple user names and passwords, check out  avast! EasyPass for you and your family.

Stay alert for identity theft

Websites can be modified by hackers to host malicious content such as phishing sites, change the content, add additional pages or use it to redirect visitors to another site –  with the intent of stealing your credit card or personal information.

Tip: Stick to sites you know and trust. If you want to visit an unfamiliar site, avast! WebRep will tell you if others think it is trustworthy. Check your credit card bills carefully during the shopping season and for several months after purchasing online.

Look out for bogus promotions
Black Friday and Cyber Monday provide a rich opportunity for scammers to fill your inbox or Facebook wall with phony promotions. Be wary of “phishing” expeditions which use legitimate businesses as a front to lure people in, only to steal passwords and other personal information. Be cautious of promotions or contests sent to you through Facebook too, even by well-meaning friends. And don’t fall for coupon scams which ask for personal information in return for a chance to win a big prize.

Tip:  If you get a too-good-to-be-true deal in your inbox or on your wall, avoid clicking on the potentially malicious link by going directly to the retailer’s website to see if it really is true. Don’t respond to any request for financial information that comes to you in an email. Call the retailer or financial institution instead.

Black Friday offer from avast!
Protect your family and friends this holiday shopping season, and all year long, by taking advantage of our Black Friday special. We have an unbeatable offer on  avast! Internet Security for 3 PCs. The special offer is for 4 days only beginning Black Friday and ending Cyber Monday.

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