As Black Friday sales hit, scammers come out to play

Nothing brings out online criminals quite like the prospect of money changing hands, and that has raised a bit of a red flag. How do you stay safe?

Most Aussies love a deal, and with Black Friday arriving in Australia this year, it seems like it is certainly the week for it.

While Black Friday isn’t typically an Australian tradition, it is one that has brought its sales to our spot of the world, though it may all bring out the cybercriminals, keen to lure people in with a deal that might be too good to be true, and end up snagging more than just your hope for a bargain.

In some instances, you might see a product with a price tag that is just too good, and security specialist Sophos has this week chimed in with some tips to help you protect yourself and stay off the radar of criminals during the sales.

Such as always looking for the security lock when shopping on a website. That’s something that helps maintain a semblance of security, though we’d go a step further and suggest carefully reading the website URL to make sure you’re at the real website you intend to be at, and not a poor fake. If you’re shopping at Amazon, make sure it says “amazon.com.au” in the URL bar and not its poorer, faker cousin “amazoon.com.au” or “amazone.com.au”.

These are examples and may not be real sites, but they serve a point: always check the URL, because fake sites are one of the easiest ways to be conned. They might look real, but faking a website is remarkably easy, and in our hurried world, we don’t always check. Assuming can potentially result in a win for the cybercriminal, and a loss for you.

Sophos has also added to watch out for sites that ask for too much information, such as your password or credit card PIN, neither of which are require to make a sale.

There’s also what happens over email, because with the sales happening, it can be all too easy to get a piece of spam in your inbox with the temptation of something too cheap, only to click and find yourself at a page that either infects you with something nasty or aims to take your information.

The same is true with mobile messages, as you might see scammers start sending these out to your phone. Unfortunately, these can be harder to check, so be mindful of what you see and click.

“With SMS, it’s easy to spoof the sender’s name,” said Ashley Wearne, General Manager of Sophos in Australia, adding that you should “always take care about clicking on links sent to you.”

In general, it’s advisable to always take care with links online, and to always read what you’re getting. Don’t just read what’s on the site, but check the URL and ask yourself if it’s too good to be true. If it sounds like it is, you may be getting played, and nobody wants that.

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