Q: I’m planning to do most of my holiday shopping online this year, starting with Cyber Monday, but I’m concerned about online security and getting hacked. Please help!
A: You’re certainly not alone with this concern, as the hackers seem to get smarter and smarter each year. Here’s what you need to know to keep your online shopping as secure as possible.
As the digital world continues to evolve, so do opportunities for cybercriminals to exploit vulnerabilities in online systems. Cyber Monday, the annual online shopping extravaganza that follows Black Friday, is a prime target for these hackers.
With over 77 million shoppers flocking to online stores to snag the best deals, it’s crucial to ensure your cybersecurity is up to par.1 This article explores cybersecurity best practices to help you shop safely and confidently on Cyber Monday, and throughout the year.
Keep Software and Devices Updated
You know those annoying software update notifications that we all procrastinate on reading? They’re actually there for your security. One of the most fundamental cybersecurity best practices is to keep your software and devices up to date. This includes your operating system, web browsers, antivirus software and any other applications you use for online shopping. Manufacturers release updates to patch security vulnerabilities and failing to install them can expose your system to threats.
Use Strong, Unique Passwords
Using strong and unique passwords for your online shopping accounts is essential. Avoid using easily guessable information, like your name or birthdate, and opt for complex combinations of letters, numbers and symbols that are longer than 12 characters. Eighty-eight percent of passwords that were successfully hacked consisted of 12 characters or less.2 Consider using a password manager to generate and store strong passwords for each of your accounts.
Enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)
2FA adds an extra layer of security to your accounts. By requiring both a password and a second form of verification (such as a one-time code sent to your mobile device), 2FA makes it significantly more challenging for hackers to gain unauthorized access to your accounts.
Be Cautious of Phishing Attempts
Cybercriminals often use phishing emails and fake websites to trick users into revealing sensitive information, especially around the holidays. Be cautious of unsolicited emails, and always verify the legitimacy of a website before entering personal or financial information. Look for HTTPS in the URL, and check for website seals or trust badges.
Use Secure Wi-Fi Networks
Public Wi-Fi networks are notorious for being less secure. When shopping online, use a secure, private network rather than public Wi-Fi. If you must use public Wi-Fi, consider using a virtual private network (VPN) to encrypt your internet connection and protect your data.
Shop from Reputable Websites
This Cyber Monday, stick to well-known and reputable online retailers. Scammers often create fake websites that mimic popular stores to steal your information. Check reviews and ratings, and make sure the website has a physical address and contact information listed.
Monitor Your Financial Statements
Regularly review your bank and credit card statements for any unauthorized or suspicious transactions. If you notice anything unusual, report it to your financial institution immediately.
Don’t Share Your Personal Information
Avoid sharing unnecessary personal details when making online purchases. Retailers typically only need your shipping address and payment information. Be cautious about sites that ask for excessive personal information.
Regularly Back Up Your Data
Back up your important data regularly. In the case of a cyberattack or ransomware attack, having secure backups can prevent data loss and give you peace of mind.
Cyber Monday offers fantastic deals and convenience, but it also attracts cybercriminals looking to exploit unsuspecting shoppers. By following these cybersecurity best practices, you can protect yourself and your personal information while enjoying the benefits of holiday shopping online.
This content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information, and provided with the assistance of Twenty Over Ten. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security.
Jeremy R. Gussick is a Registered Representative with, and securities and advisory services are offered through LPL Financial, a Registered Investment Advisor, Member FINRA/SIPC.
Gussick & Barnett Financial Planning and LPL Financial are separate entities.
*As reported by Financial Planning magazine, June 1996-2023, based on total revenues.
**Award based on 10 objective criteria associated with providing quality services to clients such as credentials, experience, and assets under management among other factors. Wealth managers do not pay a fee to be considered or placed on the final list of 2023 Five Star Wealth Managers.