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How To Stay Safe Online During Black Friday and Cyber Monday Holiday Shopping

With just 16 percent of US consumers still doing all of their holiday shopping in brick and mortar stores, you may be one of the many shoppers planning the more convenient route of clicking for gifts this year. Your email inbox may already be flooded with upcoming online sales to peruse from the comfort of your home, but don’t let the numerous deals and distractions cloud your judgment; it’s always important to pay attention to signs that your transactions are secure.

The holiday season is a lucrative time for online retailers and cybercriminals see this as an opportunity to profit as well. In fact, Norton Safe Web found that shopping sites are amongst the top ten most frequently exploited websites. An additional concern is bogus e-commerce websites, which are made to look legit but are only built to steal your credit card information.

This doesn’t have to happen to you. You can still shop online and take advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals with peace of mind. You just have to know what to look for and adhere to simple safety measures.

As you make your online purchases, remain vigilant by following safety recommendations:

1. Make sure your browser is up to date

Make sure to always use the most currently available version for your browser. By doing this, you are safe from vulnerabilities that may have been found in previous versions because most likely they have been identified and patched.

2. If you see HTTPS you are safe

Before entering a credit card payment or any confidential information make sure that the website in your browser address bar turns green or begins with HTTPS and not HTTP.  This is an indicator that your session is secure and that the site is using encryption to protect your personal data. This protocol is known as SSL—Secure Socket Layer—encryption and it protects online transactions by keeping data in transit confidential through encryption. In other words, your information is not visible to hackers.

3.  Understand the privacy policy of the website

Make sure you thoroughly understand the company’s privacy policy and how your personal data will be used.

4. Look for trust marks

You can actually find out a lot about a website’s security by looking for visual cues. Scan the entire site for trust marks. Norton Secure Seal is a widely recognized trust mark which provides evidence that a retailer’s identity has been verified and the website is secured by Symantec.

Shopping guarantees are another important trust mark. The Norton Shopping Guarantee assures shoppers that they are safe from identity theft, in addition to purchase and the lowest price guarantees.

5. Learn to spot phishing attempts and questionable deals

During the holiday season a phishing attempt may come in the form of an email advertising a great deal, but the links within the email will direct you to a bogus website that was built to capture victim’s personal information. Have your guard up for emails and text messages advertising holiday deals that seem to good to be true – most likely they are. Although spam can seem harmless, avoid clicking on links and downloading files from unknown sources. Phishing emails and websites often contain typos and spelling and grammatical mistakes. If you receive an email requesting to “verify” your confidential information, don’t respond!

6. Use strong passwords

Always use strong passwords, update them regularly, and never reuse the same password on for multiple accounts. This is especially important for accounts that contain your personal information. Norton Identity Safe is a tool you can use to manage your passwords for free.

7. If still in doubt, confirm the website

Lastly, if you are still unsure about the credibility of a website you can use Norton Safe Web, a free online tool, that can help identify risky websites as you shop.

For additional information on how to stay safe while you transact online this holiday season go to Stay Secure Online.