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Expert tips for smart, safe online shopping on Cyber Monday

Nov 21, 2017

Cyber Monday has grown every year to become a record-setting day for online retailers and that trend is expected to continue this year. Sales on Cyber Monday 2016 increased 12.1 percent over the prior year to $3.45 billion, according to data collected by Adobe Digital Insights. The National Retail Foundation found in a 2016 survey that 49 percent of Americans reported shopping on Cyber Monday, while at the same time 64 percent of e-commerce organizations reported an increase in cybercrime on Cyber Monday.

"Phishing links routinely spike around Thanksgiving in preparation for Cyber Monday," said Jeffrey Shafer, director of the Master of Science in Cybersecurity program at University of the Pacific. "Unfortunately, huge amounts of cybercriminal activity target online shoppers who are looking for the best online deals. Because of the nature of Cyber Monday, people are far more likely to fall victim to malware or phishing, because savvy hackers disguise malicious links as too-good-to-be-true discounts, often posting them on social media platforms."

Shafer has the following eight tips for consumers this Cyber Monday:

  • Shop from a secure computer and ensure that all software on your computer (operating system, web browsers and any other apps) is up-to-date. The latest versions often contain important security fixes for problems that would otherwise make you vulnerable.
  • Connect to the internet using a secure connection. Look for the lock icon in your browser address window to verify that the web address shown is indeed the store you expect to be visiting.
  • Don't use free public WiFi to make online purchases.
  • Be suspicious of "too good to be true" deals you learn about via social media, emails, or pop-up ads. Don't click the links and never open file attachments. Instead, type the store address directly into your web browser, because any legitimate deals should be easy to confirm directly from the store's website.
  • Only download or buy apps from legitimate app stores and verify the source before you install.
  • Monitor your bank account and credit card statements regularly for unauthorized purchases. If you see a transaction that doesn't correspond to a known purchase, contact your financial institution immediately.
  • Create unique usernames and passwords for each website you log into. Password management tools like LastPass (https://www.lastpass.com) or 1Password (https://1password.com) can be helpful in generating unique passwords and saving them in a secure vault so you don't have to remember them.
  • Use payment technologies like Apple Pay, Android Pay, or Samsung Pay when available. The online merchant only receives a one-use token, never your actual credit card number, which is kept secret. The fewer parties that have your credit card number, the harder it is for attackers to steal.

Pacific's cybersecurity program is teaching the next generation cybersecurity force. "Our program offers a comprehensive curriculum that meets the standards set by the National Security Agency," Shafer said. "Offered in Stockton, it is taught in a new state-of-the-art cybersecurity laboratory and can be completed in as little as one year for full-time students, or two years for part-time students. This is a technical, interdisciplinary curriculum that draws from the fields of computer science, computer engineering and electrical engineering." For more information about the program, visit cyberlab.pacific.edu.

About University of the Pacific Founded in 1851 as the first chartered institution of higher education in California, University of the Pacific prepares students for professional and personal success through rigorous academics, small classes, and a supportive and engaging culture. Widely recognized as one of the most beautiful private university campuses in the West, the Stockton Campus offers more than 80 areas of study in nine schools and colleges, including 25 graduate programs and 10 accelerated programs. The university's distinctive Northern California footprint also includes its San Francisco Campus, home to the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry and graduate programs in health, food and technology fields, and Sacramento Campus, home to the Pacific McGeorge School of Law and graduate programs in health, education, business, public policy and data science. For more information, visit www.pacific.edu.

Media contact: Joe Cockrell | Director of Media Relations | jcockrell@pacific.edu

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