Along with turkey and large meals, Thanksgiving brings us a time of incredible sales and shopping extravaganzas. If you’re like us, you avoid the typical Black Friday crowds by shopping online. The sales may not be quite as amazing, but the only crowds you have to worry about are friends and family (just don’t cut in the food line).

Before you begin your adventure into the Black Friday & Cyber Monday sales, keep cybersecurity in mind. With so much potential traffic this season, cybercriminals are sure to start rolling out their best attempts to compromise your identity and financial information. Here are 5 tips to keep you safe.

1. Every website should be secure.

Before entering any personal information, make sure the website displays a lock next to the URL in your browser. If you don’t see a lock, you’re using an unencrypted connection to the website. The data transferred between your computer and that site can be intercepted and stolen. Make sure the address starts with “https” and not “http”. If there’s no lock, leave the site.

2. Verify those “incredible” offers.

Did you see a Black Friday deal that just seems too good to be true? It might be. Make sure the offer came from a legitimate source. Scammers have been building counterfeit websites that look remarkably like the legitimate site. The whole point is to fool you into thinking you’re making a purchase from an online store. Really, they just want your information. Verify the site URL matches what you think it should be prior to entering any information.

3. Check links before clicking on them.

How do you get to those counterfeit websites? You’ll receive an email or see an ad. Everything about it looks legitimate. Clicking the link will take you to a site like we just described. It looks legitimate, but it isn’t. If you’re on a non-mobile device, hover your cursor over the link before clicking on it. Hover long enough, and you should see the address it points to pop up somewhere on your screen. If you’re on a mobile device, be extremely cautious. Only click on links that you know are legitimate, and always verify the address you end up on is what you expected.

4. Only provide minimal information.

Every website requires some sort of information to complete your purchase. Only fill the required fields. If it isn’t required, don’t hand the information over to them. If the site starts asking for security questions during the checkout process, stop immediately. No legitimate retailer will ask for security questions to make a purchase.

5. Don’t use public WiFi for purchases.

Public WiFi is nearly always lacking in security making it perfect for hackers to intercept your data. As a rule, never ever¬†handle sensitive information while connected to public WiFi. Don’t make purchases, and don’t sign into any sensitive accounts. Since the move to unlimited data by most mobile providers, public WiFi isn’t as much of a necessity. It still has its uses. If you need to make purchases or access your bank account, turn off your WiFi first.

Happy Thanksgiving!

We at Pit Crew hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving holidays and the sales from Black Friday/Cyber Monday. If your business or organization needs IT assistance, feel free to request a consultation below. If you’re looking for more tips, click the “Sign Up” button on this page and browse our archives. Happy Thanksgiving!

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