As bargain-hunters around the world gear up to spend big at Cyber Monday 2021 (opens in new tab), Microsoft has issued some guidance on how to stay safe when shopping online.
The company has released a blog post (opens in new tab) containing some top tips on how to make sure you stay protected during the holiday shopping season.
The advice seems especially pertinent given that a recent Microsoft survey found nearly two-thirds (63%) of holiday shopping will be done online this year, but global supply chain issues may lead some of us to let down our guard in search of the perfect gift.
"While we all grapple with these challenges and what they mean for our holiday traditions and celebrations, there is another group that is evaluating what it means for them—hackers," noted Vasu Jakkal, Microsoft Corporate Vice President, Security, Compliance and Identity.
"We know bad actors aim to understand the psychology of their victims—what tricks will they fall for and what vulnerabilities they have. And this year, there are some new areas around which we all need to be extra vigilant."
Microsoft's advice includes always double-checking links to make sure they won't redirect you to somewhere unexpected. Spelling mistakes, errors or extra letters can often be a giveaway that an ecommerce (opens in new tab) scammer could be lurking.
It found that one in four shoppers have bought an item that ended up being nothing like what it was described online, and 61% have fallen victim to what it calls "deceptive online shopping experiences" such as scams.
Elsewhere, it's important to make sure your passwords (opens in new tab) are strong and secure to make sure you aren't caught out by any attacks. The company says it found there are 579 password attacks every second, and is advising users to turn on multi-factor or 2FA authentication for that extra layer of protection.
"With so many people worried about availability, we all need to be extra vigilant about scams that may prey on our desires to get the gifts our loved ones want," concluded Jakkal.
"It can be easy to get tunnel vision and when we see an ad for what we want with a “guaranteed delivery” offer. It might be tempting to go for it even if it’s a site we aren’t sure we can trust. But keep in mind, most offers that seem too good to be true are just that."
- Stay safe online with the best identity theft protection (opens in new tab) tools