Next week is Black Friday and while it is expected to be rather muted compared to previous years, it is the day that has come to mark the start of the festive shopping season.

As such, it’s important to keep your wits about you as you traverse the various sales online as many folks may not want to risk going into densely populated malls.

As Black Friday and the festive season as a whole are a battleground for cybercriminals, it’s worth remembering a few basic security precautions.

As such Neil van Rooyen, head of information security at Vox, has shared some of the basics you should know and a few tips for shopping online during a pandemic where cybercriminals attempt to take advantage of people.

To that end, beware of scammers playing on your goodwill.

“Fake charity scams are not unique to the internet. But when combined with all the COVID-19 scams that have been flooding our devices the past several months, it is easy to have one slip through and donate by accident. The best way to mitigate the risk of this happening is to phone the charity and confirm the outreach to your device. The minute or two it takes to make a call can save you countless hours of trying to recover your funds and change your online banking details,” van Rooyen advises.

As for cybersecurity, just as you wouldn’t go out into public without a mask on right now, you shouldn’t be walking around with your smartphone unprotected.

While van Rooyen says users should always install the latest patches, this isn’t always possible on older smartphones. While you should update your software as and when updates are available, you should also be using a security solution.

“It might be tempting to download freely available software to accomplish this, but rather invest a few rands into buying a quality mobile solution,” says van Rooyen.

On this point we agree with van Rooyen wholeheartedly. Many internet security solutions come bundled with a mobile solution that you can make use of but solutions specifically available for mobile are available through your smartphone’s app store.

Something else to be cautious of is location sharing.

While it might be nice to have the memory of going to your local pub in three years time, if that information is being shared publicly it can be used by criminals to target your home while you’re away. By all means, share your location with those close to you but be cognisant that everything you place on the public web can be seen by everybody.

Finally, set up a lock on your smartphone so that in the event it is stolen the criminals can’t access your banking profile or indeed other profiles on your smartphone.

Enable biometric authentication or use a strong password to keep your phone locked when you aren’t using it.

These are very basic tips but they warrant repeating as we head into the festive season. Criminals are always looking for an opportunity to take advantage of, be sure not to give them that chance.