23 November 2023

Don't get more than you bargained for this Black Friday and Cyber Monday

How to shop safely online this festive season - and beyond!


The festive season is upon us, and with it comes the allure of unbeatable Black Friday deals and Cyber Monday steals. But as we eagerly fill our virtual carts and hunt for the best online discounts, cybercriminals are also gearing up to capitalise on our festive fervour. From cunning phishing scams to deceptive discount emails, the digital Grinches are out in full force.

And businesses would be remiss to think that they are not impacted. Cyber Monday deals also offer businesses the chance to stock up on hardware and software at never-to-be repeated prices (or so retailers would have us believe). Email is also so ubiquitous that the lines between personal and business use are often blurred. Not only do employees use business emails for personal use, but they often access personal email on business networks and infrastructure, expanding those businesses’ attack surfaces and increasing risk of a breach.

But, with SYNAQ by your side, you can rest assured that online shopping is both merry and malware-free. Dive into our guide on how to navigate the online shopping world safely, ensuring you don’t get more than you bargained for this festive season:

5 Festive Season Email Scams to Watch Out For:

  1. Phishing Emails: An old favourite among cybercriminals, phishing emails are deceptive messages that mimic legitimate businesses, urging users to click on links or download attachments to gain access to networks or trick users out of sensitive information. During the festive season, scammers ride the coat tails of legitimate retailers sharing special offers via email and take advantage of the fact that end user guards are down in the quest for good deals.
  1. Fake Order Confirmations: A form of phishing, cybercriminals send fake order confirmations from popular e-commerce sites. It’s a numbers game leveraging the increased statistical probability that users have indeed placed an order from popular retailers and so are more likely to click on malicious links or download attachments containing malware.
  1. E-Gift Card Scams: Scammers send emails claiming you've received a gift card or voucher. Once you click to redeem, they'll attempt to steal personal information like credit card details, or you’ll unwittingly install malware that takes advantage of vulnerabilities in your network. As a general rule of thumb, if you didn’t enter a competition, you haven’t won a prize.
  1. Shipping Scam Emails: These phishing emails claim there's an issue with the delivery of your purchase. They'll ask you to click on a link to resolve the issue, leading you to a malicious site where you’ll part company with personal information.
  1. Charity Scams: Taking advantage of the season of giving, charity scams soar over the holidays, with convincing emails asking for donations to fake charities.

How to Identify Festive Season and Black Friday Email Scams:

  1. Check the Sender's Email Address: Often, the email address won't match the legitimate domain of the company it's pretending to be from. Hover over the display name to expose the full address and check that the domain matches the retailer’s website.
  1. Look for Spelling and Grammar Mistakes: Generative AI has made tech-savvy scammers better at writing convincing emails free from the tell-tale spelling errors of old. But poor grammar, American spelling from a South African retailer and other errors can help you spot scam emails.
  1. Beware of Generic Greetings: Authentic emails should come from suppliers you’ve opted into receiving communication from. And good marketers will personalise these mails, greeting you by name. Phishing emails might use generic greetings like "Dear Customer" instead, giving you a clue to their nefarious origins.
  1. Examine the Links: Hover over any links without clicking. If the address looks suspicious, or the domain doesn’t look like that of the legitimate retailer, don't click. Make it a practice to review links and check they begin with https:// and end with a reputable domain name such as .com or .org. Hover over images or text links before clicking on them to make sure the actual link matches what’s in the message.
  1. Too Good to Be True: Even on Black Friday, and Cyber Monday, if an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. Be wary of unbelievable deals or prizes.

How to Avoid Festive Season and Black Friday Email Scams:

  1. Never Click on Suspicious Links: If in doubt, visit the company's official website directly by typing the URL into your browser.
  1. Update Your Software: Ensure your operating system, browser, and security software are up-to-date. By partnering with reputable Software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers, you can rest assured that your software is always up-to-date.
  1. Verify Before Donating: If you receive an email from a charity, verify its legitimacy before donating by visiting NPO official websites by typing the URL into your browser.
  1. Report Suspicious Emails: Be part of the solution - Flag as SPAM and forward suspicious emails to your IT service provider or IT department.
  1. Partner with SYNAQ: It’s reported that over half (56%) of Black Friday spam emails received between 26 October and 6 November 2022 were scams. The sheer volume means that relying on a lack of human error to protect your mailboxes is the ultimate human error. With SYNAQ's email security software, your mailboxes are comprehensively protected against cyber threats for a more productive inbox during the festive season and beyond.

Secure your mailbox this Festive Season and Beyond with SYNAQ Email Security Solutions:

We offer a range of security packages to suit your budget and needs, with inclusions like Identity Threat Protection (ITP), LinkShield, Data Leak Protection (DLP), DMARC, SPF, automated reporting, portal access, and more. With SYNAQ, you’re assured of:

  1. Advanced Spam Detection: SYNAQ's solutions come equipped with advanced spam detection capabilities, ensuring that 99.95% of unwanted and potentially harmful emails are filtered out before they reach your inbox.
  1. 100% Virus Protection: With SYNAQ, you can be assured of complete protection against email-borne viruses, safeguarding your organisation's data and infrastructure.
  1. Punitive Phishing Protection SLA: SYNAQ boasts the only 100% punitive phishing protection SLA against leading banks in South Africa, offering unparalleled protection against phishing attempts.
  1. User-Friendly Administration Interface: Manage your email security with ease using SYNAQ's intuitive and powerful administration interface.
  1. Detailed Reporting: Gain insights into email usage, top threats, and bandwidth savings across the organisation. These reports are delivered directly to your inbox, providing a clear overview of your email security landscape.
  1. Quick Setup: With no installations required, businesses can be set up and protected within 24 hours.


Remember, while the festive season is a time of joy and giving, it's also prime time for cybercriminals. Stay vigilant, double-check emails, and ensure you're protected with top-notch email security solutions. With SYNAQ's robust email security solutions, businesses can enjoy peace of mind, knowing that their email communications are protected from a wide range of cyber threats – this festive season and beyond! Contact us to learn more - https://www.synaq.com/contact/