Beware the Black Clouds this Friday

BlackFridayWho doesn’t love a bargain? Black Friday is one of those days we all wait for when an item we had set our eyes on weeks or months before, becomes available at a price that suits our budget. It doesn’t matter where you buy it from – the store or online – you’re still bound to get a good deal.

However, if you are going to do research or shop online for the best deals, we recommend that you pay particular attention and look out for trouble spots and fake offers. Online sales rocket at this time of the year, and you can rest assured that hackers and cyber thieves are going to capitalize on the spike in activity. They will have been preparing for Black Friday (and Cyber Monday) and have a collection of bait, like infected websites, ready to lure unsuspecting victims and infect the device they are using – be it a Windows machine, a Mac OS or Android.

You can expect an increase in malicious activity, but that should not put you off getting that longed-for bargain. Here are a few things you should do… and a few that you shouldn’t.

Don’t believe the SPAM

This tip is valid for every day of the year, but particularly around Black Friday; spammers will be pushing out millions of ‘too good to be true’ deals by email. Many of the links in these spam emails are linked to malicious sites and nothing will change on Black Friday. If you receive an email from somebody you don’t know, you would do well to ignore the offer or advice given. You should also be wary of emails from banks, PayPal, or other finance-related websites that ask you for your login details. These are phishing attempts to steal your username and password details. The number of phishing attempts is growing aggressively month on month, and PayPal is the most popular “phished” site at the moment. So beware of those wolves in sheep’s skin.

Stick to trusted vendors

Shopping around will allow you to compare prices and find the best deal, however, if you’re sticking to your trusted vendors, you will lower your risk of exposure to malicious activity.

Take advice only from people you trust – but remain cautious

You are asking for trouble when you visit new and unknown websites and click on links posted by untrusted sources on forums, in social media comments, or popular Twitter hashtags. Popular Twitter hashtags are monitored by malware authors and are very often used as bait. In these cases, we recommend that you do not click on links at random but find the source to ensure the Twitter account is valid and reliable. Check that the tweet does not read like spam. There have been many instances when Twitter accounts (including celebrity accounts) were hacked and used to distribute malicious or spam links.

Don’t go bargain hunting at the office

The bargain hunting craze has already started. If you’re at work do think twice before opening emails or checking vendors’ sites for the latest deals. And if you are tempted to spend more time browsing than actually being productive, be a bit more tech savvy this Thanksgiving and remember that the bad guys are out there and pushing malware and scams like mad. Do spare a thought for your IT admin who wants to enjoy his holidays and not end up in the office on Friday with a dark cloud hanging over his head because someone let a virus in and brought the network down!

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