Black Friday is finally here, meaning a bumper bonanza for bargain-hunters everywhere. However shoppers have also been warned not to believe everything they see online, as criminals may use the savings as a way to trap victims.
For the first time, the National Cybersecurity Centre (NCSC) has released advice on how to stay safe on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
The organisation has been hard at work preparing for the shopping weekend, having taken down almost 140,000 phishing sites and tackling 557 significant cyberattacks over the course of the last year.
British shoppers are estimated to spend more than £10,000 per second online, totalling £3.5 billion over the "cyber weekend 2018".
- The best Black Friday deals
Black Friday 2018 security
"Staying safe online doesn't require deep technical knowledge, and we want the whole country to know that the NCSC speaks the same language as them," said Ian Levy, NCSC technical director.
"With so many of the UK shopping online, we want to see these tips shared from classrooms and scout groups to family dinner tables and old people's homes."
Levy's advice was echoed by one of the UK's leading retail cybercrime experts, who called on retailers and shoppers alike to stay savvy when online.
“With more and more shoppers looking to get the best deals online, retailers continue to invest significantly in developing the right tools and expertise to protect against cyber-threats," said James Martin, Crime and Security Advisor, British Retail Consortium.
“We encourage consumers to be careful and buy through trusted websites, such as those of British Retail Consortium members, to ensure that their Black Friday deal doesn’t turn into a post-Christmas headache.”
The NCSC's top tips advice to reduce the risk of cyber-crime is:
- Install the latest software and app updates
- Choose strong and separate passwords for accounts
- Type in a shop's website address rather than clicking on links in emails
- Avoid over-sharing unnecessary information with shops, even if they ask
- Don't panic if you think you've been a victim of fraud
- Keep an eye on bank accounts for unrecognised payments
- Make sure all your home gadgets are secure
The NCSC will also be taking questions from members of the public as part of a "cyber chat" on its Twitter account throughout Black Friday.
- If you're looking for extra privacy online, try our best VPN service of 2018
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Mike Moore is Deputy Editor at TechRadar Pro. He has worked as a B2B and B2C tech journalist for nearly a decade, including at one of the UK's leading national newspapers and fellow Future title ITProPortal, and when he's not keeping track of all the latest enterprise and workplace trends, can most likely be found watching, following or taking part in some kind of sport.