Don’t get schooled by cybercriminals: Tips for protecting yourself during the back-to-school shopping frenzy


By Ryan Wilk, vice president of customer success, NuData Security

Summer is speeding by and the first day of school is just around the corner. In some areas, it’s already started. For teachers, parents and many others, that means it’s time to stock up on pencils, notebooks, calculators and the rest.

Yes, back-to-school shopping season is already upon us, and don’t think fraudsters aren’t in on the game. Any time there is a flurry of seasonal shopping activity, you can bet there are bad actors lying in wait, ready to pounce on unprotected systems. Although a recent Deloitte study found that most people still buy school supplies (66 percent) in brick-and-mortar stores, 61 percent of shoppers say they plan to research online before making a purchase at a physical store. And there are that nearly 40 percent of folks who say they will be doing their supply shopping online.

So how do you keep your organization and customers safe?

Here are a few tips:

  • Don’t look for the needle in the haystack; focus on all that good hay instead. Passive biometrics and behavioural analytics allow you – as an organization – to focus on the good users, the ones who drive your business. When you take this approach, fraud will reveal itself.
  • Don’t overlook gift cards! Guessing gift card numbers or cycling through many gift cards is a sign of fraudulent activity. Treat them like you would any other payment method when it comes to verification and security.
  • Watch out for “aged” online accounts that have never been used before suddenly become active. Cybercriminals are patient, and create accounts that sit dormant waiting for the perfect time to strike.
  • Check yourself before you wreck yourself: There’s still have time to audit your website security in advance to test for load, security loopholes and account protection. Go in knowing what your system can handle and be prepared for contingencies.

There are also a few things consumers should keep in mind:

  • Stick with websites you trust: When it comes to online shopping, make sure you use a site that is security-enabled. The url will contain https:// or shttp://, or a closed padlock on your web browser’s address bar. Yes, that website you’ve never heard of may be offering some super, dirt-cheap bargains, but remember the old adage – if a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is. Trust goes both ways – shop at retailers that offer a passive, friction-free experience. Why should you have to jump through hoops to prove who you are?
  • Turn off your computer when you’re finished shopping and using your computer: Leaving your computer connected to the Internet when it’s not in use gives scammers 24/7 access to install malware and commit cyber crimes.
  • Don’t use unsecured WiFi to make purchases: ‘Nuff said.

For consumers, Canada’s Get Cyber Safe website offers additional tips for families to stay safe when it comes to cybersecurity and going back to school. The U.S. National Cybersecurity Alliance has a great infographic, too.

About Ryan Wilk

Ryan Wilk is the vice president of customer success for NuData Security.

Previously, he was manager of Trust and Safety at StubHub and spent eight years with Universal Parks & Resorts in various e-commerce roles.

NuData Security predicts and prevents online fraud, protecting businesses from brand damage and financial loss caused by fraudulent or malicious attacks. NuData Security analyzes and scores billions of users per year and services some of the largest ecommerce and Web properties around the globe.



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