Online sales and scams – ’tis the season to be wary.

World wide, online shoppers are being cautioned about Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping sales, as the season invites additional opportunity for cyber criminals to steal payment data via online shopping sites.

Black Friday sales could be targeted as “prime pickings” for cyber-crime, the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre has warned shoppers along with the Australian and US national security equivalents, as the silly season approaches and a forecast of record sales online leading up to Christmas.

Retailers have also been put on notice with Santa’s naughty and nice list of cyber secure retailers who are storing shoppers private information securely and taking their cyber security responsibilities seriously. With the Christmas season fast approaching, research by LastPass has revealed that retailers still have work to do to encourage strong password security and support two-factor authentication (2FA).

Apple is the most secure U.S. online retailer for customers, followed by Best Buy, The Home Depot, Amazon and Qurate Retail Group (owner of QVC, HSN and Zulily).

So who’s been naughty? Topping that part of the list is e-commerce furniture company Wayfair, followed by Walmart, eBay, Macy’s and Costco. In conducting the research, LastPass examined 17 criteria related to the account, password and website security features of top retailers.

LastPass said it wanted to present consumers with guidance as to which sites best protected their personal information from data breaches. Among the criteria for the research: password requirements; the use of security questions; personal information collected; use of two-factor authentication; social media logins; and how forgotten passwords are handled.

everyone wants to weigh in on how to avoid holiday shopping scams, but the reality is that no season poses greater cyber-risks than another.

The reality is that cybercriminals will leverage any holiday or major national and world events if it means that they can trick users into sharing some of their private information. That’s why e-retailers in particular need to be cybersecurity-vigilant, not only during the holiday shopping season but all year long. But as we know, major organisations are being breached (what seems) every other day, so what can we do as online shoppers and online users to protect ourselves?

Here are some simple tips to follow to reduce the risk of your accounts or information being stolen:

** Check Your Anti-Virus Software Is Activated.
** Don’t Shop Using Free Public Wi-Fi Hotspots.
** Make Sure The Browser Has A Padlock or has https: in the URL.
** Avoid Using Weak Passwords.
** Google Search The Store’s Credibility.
** Minimize Your Credit or Debit Card Data.
** Check Your Anti-Virus Software Is Activated.
** Don’t use autofills or “save passwords or credit card numbers”
** Make sure you have updated all of your devices
** Monitor your credit card transactions daily.
** Don’t click on emails for deals or sales without double checking.
** Use YDF to send personal data to third parties like travel agents, banks, solicitors, real estate agents.