Tips & Advice

Black Friday shoppers, use our security checklist before you charge into sales

Jeff Elder, 26 November 2019

Half of retail execs anticipate web traffic will be even higher this year, so use our tips to stay safe in the virtual crowds

On your marks, get set, shop online! Black Friday and Cyber Monday are here, and online cash registers and cybercriminals are busy. 

Sales from the two big shopping days brought in nearly $14 billion last year, and nearly half (46%) of retail executives anticipate web traffic will be significantly higher this year compared to last. Factor in that the online shopping holidays have grown beyond the U.S., and you have a global shop-a-thon bursting with values – and risks. Luckily, we have a security checklist for your online shopping. 

Take these precautions into account before you charge into the sales!

Watch for fakes everywhere – not just on websites. Check websites to make sure they begin with https – but remember that’s not the only place scammers target. Check emails to make sure the sender’s address is actually from the business, and investigate any bargain-hunter apps or social media promotions you see. Even followup emails after a purchase can be spoofed.

Almost all of us (91%) have left a website that was slow to load, and 30% of shoppers would think twice before using that retailer again.

Slow down. Almost all of us (91%) have left a website that was slow to load, and 30% of shoppers would think twice before using that retailer again. Completely understandable. But if your haste to get bargains causes you to shop without using a virtual private network, or to use autofill for your credit card info on a network that isn’t secure, that’s a problem. Find out more about VPNs here. 

Put a layer between your credit card and scammers. Virtual credit cards can provide significant extra protection, if you want the best assurance. Third-party payment services such as PayPal, Apple Pay, and Google Pay give you an extra layer of protection. Never shop on public Wi-Fi, and don't save your credit card information on retail sites. It can be easy to forget safety tips when shopping on your phone, where retailers are seeing a huge spike in traffic. These payment services can be very handy on mobile sites. Remember to only shop from your home or cell network, never on public Wi-Fi.

Block that clutter! Using an adblocker will save you the extended loading time and the headache of being constantly inundated with ads, most reminding you of previous products you’ve viewed. You’ll be more focused, your pages will load faster. Ads aren’t just annoying or ugly—these days they could also be a security risk.

Avast Secure Browser makes it easy. Avast’s cybersecurity experts built an advanced Chromium-based web browser for their own personal use, and then released it for free to Avast users. Avast Secure Browser is packed with useful, state of the art tools and services including Adblock, anti-phishing security, anti-tracking security, anti-fingerprinting security, and Bank Mode, a feature that protects your bank and brokerage accounts by creating an isolated desktop session for all payment, brokerage, or banking transactions. 

Luis Corrons, a cybersecurity evangelist at Avast, warns that “The Internet is fully loaded with succulent offers, and people are overwhelmed by trying to catch the best products. As a result they spend less time researching the seller, which is where cybercriminals can take advantage.”

Getting a great deal on Black Friday or Cyber Monday is a sport-shopping thrill. Knowing you are doing so with no surprises from scammers is the gift that keeps on giving.