On Friday Sead Fadilpasic of ITProPortal reported that “GCHQ warns on Black Friday Cyber Threats.”This news remained in circulation as it was also reported by Cybersecurity Insiders and Edinburgh Evening News on the same day.

Black Friday is an amazing time to lay your hands on some cheap hardware but this comes with the risk of being targeted by online hackers. They are either trying to scam people out of their hard earned money or they try to get their hands on customer data. The customer data proves to be much more useful to them as it can be used for other scamming schemes.

A warning was issued by the UK’s National Intelligence and Security organization GCHQ to shoppers about recurring cyber-attacks. The Government Communication Headquarters’ cyber wing, National Cyber Security Centre (NSCS) provided some top tips for staying safe online. These tips would help while shopping online and on Cyber Monday especially.

Dr Ian Levy, the technical director of NCSC said “We know that cybersecurity can present itself as a daunting subject, however sharing knowledge today will protect your loved ones tomorrow. Staying safe online doesn’t require deep and immense technical knowledge. We want the whole country to know that the NCSC speaks the same language as these scammers. It is the vital knowledge that is shared and that is why we are encouraging everybody to have a cyber-chat. With so many of the UK’S shopping online we want to see these tips shared from classrooms and scout groups to family dinner tables and old people’s homes.”

Ian added that NSCS has been involved in tackling more than 600 significant cyber incidents in the past one year. Out of all the over 600 incidents, 380 were observed to be on the government’s critical infrastructure. This statistic shows that they are always on the lookout for loopholes individuals internet use.

The amount of money spent during this period is usually high and sometimes record-breaking. NSCS estimates that across so-called “Cyber Weekend 2018” people spend about £10,000 per second, in total the amount spent is about £3.5 billion.

Sian John MBE, Microsoft’s Chief security said: “Whilst searching for those Black Friday and Cyber weekend bargains it is important that we all take a few simple precautions so that we do not end up being a gift for cybercriminals.”

To stay safe, you don’t need immense technical knowledge said, Mr. Levy. This he said after issuing advice to shoppers on how to reduce the risk of cybercrime. The following advice was given in order to reduce the risk of cyber-crime:

  1. Always make use of strong passwords which consists of alphanumeric, special characters and upper case letters.
  2. Install the latest application updates and software.
  3. Don’t attempt to click on email links and always type in the shopping website’s name in the browser.
  4. Be on the lookout for “HTTPS mark at the beginning of the payment webpage link in the browser.”
  5. Do not overshare any information with shops like saving card details and disclosing your one-time password (OTP).
  6. Keep an eye on your bank account statement at least once a month.
  7. Do not panic if you become a victim of a cyber scam and report it to the law enforcement agencies through proper channel as it helps others in alerting on time.

The agency’s chief executive, Ciaran Martin, Recently told a meeting of business leaders of a “serious and suctioned” threat including from “elite hackers” in other countries. “It is not speculation and it is not scare-mongering,” said Mr Martin. “Large-scale criminal cyber-activity is, sadly ubiquitous.”

This could include the “theft of millions from retailers and attacks on financial networks on which shops depend. A data breach had an average cost of £3 million and there were estimates that the WannaCry cyber-attack last year had cost the United States £3.5 billion. he said.”

The NotPetya was another cyber-attack that cost one firm in the United States about £250 million including the cost of replacing IT equipment.

Security adviser to the retailers’ organization, James Martin said “With more and more shoppers looking to get the best deals online, retailers continue to invest significantly in developing the right tools and expertise to protect against cyber-threats.” He referred to the effect of cyber-crime as “Post-Christmas Headache.”

“Thinking you can handle the threats without putting forward defensive mechanisms to their offensive ways would be “a foolish way” to dive into black Friday. These guys are everywhere, they act like they are normal but what they want, we won’t give them. We would equip ourselves and ensure other shoppers do too,” said an observer at the announcement of these tips.