Shopping in the lead up to Christmas this year is going to be very different to any we have experienced before. As a result of the ongoing restrictions and social distancing, employees are less likely to spend time in crowded shops and more likely to take advantage of the deals offered during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, writes Lisa Bryson, Partner, Employment and Immigration, Eversheds Sutherland Belfast.
Although this will be the most Covid-secure way of shopping this year, it presents other dangers in respect of online fraud. It also has the potential to negatively impact on the productivity of employees and businesses and as such, now is the ideal time to review and remind employees of IT security policies and the appropriate use of company equipment.
Year on year, employers report that there is often a drop in productivity during Cyber Week. In a remote working environment, it can be expected that this will be even more prevalent this year. However, a potential solution to this and an effective way of boosting staff morale could be an employee ‘shopping hour’ to be taken in one go or in several slots on Black Friday or Cyber Monday. The reality is that many employees will take this time anyway so you can turn this from a negative into a positive.
Many companies have identified increased security risks and security breaches with employees working from home. Albeit that employees may still be using their company equipment, many in the comfort of their home, will not think twice about clicking on a too good to be true offer. There is obviously now more opportunity to fall victim of fraudulent behaviour however, by taking a few precautions, employees and businesses can avoid this scenario.
Over the last number of weeks, promotional emails appearing in our inboxes have increased and while these may appear legitimate it is important to never click on suspicious links. Often this is an attempt to get attention and trick individuals into clicking on links which carry malicious malware. Ultimately it is always best to go directly to the retailer’s website to verify any offers.
Another tactic increasingly used by scammers is ‘phishing emails’ which are designed to look like they are sent from a legitimate source, such as a bank or mobile phone provider. All employees should be aware of these and should be reminded to never provide any details which are requested.
Taking simple steps can ultimately make a massive difference in the fight against cyber fraud. A key rule when shopping online is to always make sure that the site is secure, and employees should be reminded to continuously check that they are on an encrypted page. It will often be the case that if the page’s URL does not start with “https” – it is not legitimate.
Furthermore, employees should be reminded to always use authenticated payment methods which provide added protection if things go wrong with purchases. It is also important to remind employees that having strong, secure passwords is essential to keeping online identity and accounts safe from hackers.
These security practices should be followed throughout the year but it is now more essential than ever to put them into practice during the holiday shopping season when cyber criminals are increasing their attempts to steal online credentials and infect business systems with malware. By shopping savvy, the threat posed can be diminished.