Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Planning to Shop on Cyber Monday? Be Very, Very Careful!

While the economy continues to suffer, many Americans will still visit shopping malls across the country the day after Thanksgiving, also known as the busiest shopping day of the year or Black Friday. But for those of you who wait for Cyber Monday, the busiest ONLINE shopping day of the year, you need to be aware that cyber criminals are waiting for you.

According to market researchers with comScore Networks, approximately 58% of workers do most of their online shopping while at work. This can create a number of problems. This web activity can increase bandwidth consumption, can result in a loss of productivity, and can lead to increased spam and phishing attacks. But, despite these risks, most companies do nothing to stop online shopping during work hours. A recent survey conducted by St. Bernard found that 76% of companies do NOT block their employees’ Internet access to online shopping sites during work hours.

If companies do not have policies against their employees using work computers for online commerce, be aware that IT departments may still be on alert. Cyber criminals are creating fake ecommerce sites with the hope that visitors share their credit card information, and surfers may encounter malicious links near the top of search results when searching for popular products.

A solution might be to have one designated PC for employees to use, but have you ever received the following email from your CEO at 9am on the Monday after Thanksgiving?

“Dear employees, I hope you had a great Thanksgiving. To thank you for your great work all year long, we have designated one computer in the lunch room for your Cyber Monday shopping. Please be considerate of your fellow employees and only shop for 15 minutes. Thank you.”

Probably not.

While Cyber Monday marks the busiest time of the year for consumers, retailers, and cyber criminals, the best solution is to surf ecommerce sites from home, use effective virus protection and firewall (hardware, software, or both), only visit reputable websites, and only share credit card information on encrypted sites. Sometimes, a product’s price is so enticing that we can easily forget these simple rules – until it’s too late – and our credit card information has been stolen. Happy and safe shopping!

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