Black Friday is here, and consumers are warned to be vigilant about possible cybersecurity risks.

Before Cyber Monday and Black Friday’s sales rush, the National Cyber Security Center has sent out guidelines to assist consumers in remaining safe online.

The Centre’s objective is to allow shoppers to implement simple methods to decrease the danger of cyber-attacks or fraud before, during, and after the purchases.

The NCSC Deputy Director for Economy and Society, Sarah Lyons, remarked that the festive season is hectic for customers and cybercriminals also. The latter targets customers, who are not careful when looking for a good offer online.

‘It is beneficial to conduct some study on online traders to check their authenticity. Read feedback from firms or people that are trustworthy, for instance, consumer websites,’ said the NCSC.

According to the Centre, messages and emails may present ‘awesome deals.’ But, customers should practice control, and at all times, confirm that the communication is genuine. In the last one year, the NCSC has removed 113,000 harmful URLs from con online stores using its Active Cyber Defense program. At the beginning of this year, it also started its SERS (Suspicious Email Reporting Service) together with the City of London police.

Four months following the launch, more than 2.3 million reports were sent to the service, leading to a substantial number of websites being pulled down.

Remaining protected online

The Scottish Business Resilience Centre’s Cyber Incident Response Manager remarked that Black Friday is a ‘dream come true for cybercriminals’ and cautioned that consumers should be careful throughout the year when purchasing online.

’We have had an experience where online promotions go on until November because non-essential stores are compelled to close in  major areas of the state. So, it is possible that in the coming weeks, we shall go through a correlating increase in cyber-attacks,’ said Cunningham-Dickie.

This high risk also applies to businesses, and cyber-attacks are a great danger to all companies, despite sizes. So, how do they get ready before Cyber Monday?

Cunningham-Dickie told DIGIT about the techniques that businesses need to implement to shield their clients and themselves.

Be wary of phony clients.

When communicating with clients by email, ensure that you do not send any attachments. At all times, check the file extension of attachments, and take extreme care when it comes to .hta, .zip, and pdf files. Do not open .exe files. if you are not expecting them.

In case of any doubt, call the client to confirm whether they sent you the email. If you cannot contact them, save the file in a secure location, and run it over an antivirus scan. The additional time you invest is worth it, to alleviate the danger of an attack ruining your business during such an important sales season.

Enhance security

The business should be aware of their IT security now more than before and become familiar with the procedures they have established. You should at least ensure that you have a certificate for your website indicating safe communication and to find out whether you have updated antivirus protection.

Take more measures by having an ethical hacker test for your website. It is an effective step to recognize any flaws on the website. It means that hackers cannot hike the costs of items and that consumer data and payment specifics are encrypted.

In case you do not experience a cyber-attack in your business when you complete this procedure, it will assist in decreasing any ICO penalties.

Decrease an attack’s fallout

If an attack happens, it will help to restrict its effect by making sure that you back up your systems often and establish a disaster recovery process.

The coming weeks may be the most hectic period of the year, and when you back up your information, it will alleviate the danger of losing orders or information incase you suffer an attack.

It also signifies that you can begin working again quickly, which will lower the general effect on the running of your business.

After an attack

If you go through a cyber-attack, it is vital to take steps immediately. Many resources are available, and you can contact them for support, such as the Cyber Incident Response Helpline, which offers free professional assistance. The helpline at times also works with Police Scotland when asked to provide proof against cybercriminals.

If you are sure that a person is impersonating your business or website, you must call 101 and make a criminal report.

If you have a copyrighted brand, you also need to give the hosting provider a DMCA Takedown notice.