Ecommerce - The Future of Shopping

How To Shop or Sell Safely Online – Black Friday or Not

The Black Friday 2015 has come and gone; but shoppers don’t need to worry as there are still great deals available online and sellers need to keep their websites full of bargains as there are shoppers still looking for deals of the year.

In the UK, Black Friday started two years ago when Asda brought the annual shopping bonanza across the pond. Thousands of people queued up to get their hands on the deal or deals of the year before Christmas. There was a chaos in the country with shoppers fighting over bargains which led to fights and arrests.

However, on Monday 27 November 2015 (Black Friday Day) was a different story altogether when stores opened their doors ready to handle mayhem but were disappointed as most people decided to login to the stores websites to avoid all those scuffles witnessed in the high street stores last year. The police, at the same time, warned bargain hunters that they may have fallen victim to cyber criminals.

But, the sales and bargain hunting phenomena always starts before the Black Friday and goes well beyond Christmas into January in the following year. But we have to shop or sell online safely. Underneath, we outline some basic measures that buyers and merchants MUST take to minimize the risk of unpleasant and costly consequences while buying or selling online.

For Shoppers

1 Use famous sites:

For starters, always start your purchase with the most trusted websites. We all know about many websites that are worldwide trusted for online purchasing of goods; for example, Amazon, eBay, Marks and Spencers, Selfridges, John Lewis, Debenhams are some of famous sites for online shopping in the UK.

2 Crooks need to know all:

Hackers need to know other important information than just your credit card number! Online stores do not normally ask for buyers’ personal information and you need to think twice before parting with information that is not mandatory for a purchase!

3 Do your research:

If you want to use a new website for online purchase, do your home work and conduct some research on the new site! Check ratings and reviews of that site and if the consumers have given positive comments on that site then go for it!

4 Don’t go for the best discounts:

Everyone gets attracted to the prices less than the rate of other vendors. Some rogue sites offers their products that gives us the excitement of shockingly low prices which in fact is not real. As the saying goes, “If it is too good to be true, it is too good to be true”. Beware of the scams!

5 Change passwords regularly:

The Metropolitan Police’s cyber crime unit Falcon said it is investigating a technique known as “diagonal brute forcing” in which username and passwords obtained from previous hacks are used to check if that same combination of username and password has a valid account with other retailers. If a match is found, the account can be accessed*. Therefore, it is vital that you change your passwords regularly to minimise the risk of an opportunist getting access to your personal details or do his/her shopping with your money.
*(Advice regarding online shopping)

For Merchants:

1 Always use HTTPS:

The encryption within HTTPS is meant to provide many benefits to you and your customers which include:

  • Confidentiality – the information remains confidential from prying eyes because only your customers’ browser and your server can decrypt the traffic.
  • Integrity protects the data from being modified en route without your knowledge.

2 Install phishing filter:

Install this filter as it creates a boundary between hackers and sites credential info and will enhance sellers’ privacy.

3 Strong passwords:

Create 2-step verification and strong passwords to prevent your site from hackers and intruders.

4 Check your site regularly:

Being a vendor, it’s your responsibility to check for any intruders to your site. It is very important because according to the UK Government’s 2014 cyber security survey, 81% of large businesses have suffered malicious data breaches.

In order to protect your site from hackers, begin with narrowing your focus and understanding the paths to the most valuable data in your organisation. Then, make the access to those paths as hard as possible and monitor them for suspicious activity. It cannot be over emphasised that you need to create a strategy and plan for checking your site regularly.

Happy Shopping and Merry Christmas!