Black Friday and Cyber Monday: Tips for secure online and mobile shopping

Businessman with smartphone

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are imminent. More shoppers are choosing to make purchases online or via mobile devices. Some shoppers are even getting started on Thursday. Whatever day you decide to go bargain hunting, here are some tips for online and mobile shopping.

Use a secure Wi-Fi connection. If you're on a public Internet connection, you risk exposing your personal information to nefarious hackers lurking on the same network.

Shop on websites you know and trust. If you're on a fence about a site you've never seen, follow your instincts. Try to Google the name of the retailer to see if a scam has been reported or bad reviews have been posted online.

Update your anti-virus software. According to Norton's 2012 cybercrime report, 1.5 million people are victims of cybercrime everyday. And the global cost of consumer cybercrime is $110 billion annually. Using an anti-virus software will at least give shoppers an added level of security.

The security software company Trend Micro suggests shoppers look for Web addresses that use a HTTPS URL. The "S" stands for secure and adds a level of protection. Another tip is to check to see if the payment site's URL changes. If it does, think twice about entering sensitive data online.

Keep track of who is shopping in your household. If you allow your kids to use your credit or debit card to shop, make sure they understand the importance of securing sensitive information and only using trusted sites.

Mobile security is important, too. According to brand agency Digitas, 28 percent of smartphone or tablet-owning adults plan to shop with mobile devices on Thanksgiving Day. Some are even starting to coin the day "Mobile Thursday."

Among some risky mobile phone behavior, Norton reports 67 percent of people check emails on unsecure Wi-Fi connections, 63 percent access social networks, 31 percent shop online and 24 percent access their bank accounts.

When in doubt, it may be worth the extra effort to check to see if a website is trustworthy to ensure a secure shopping experience.