Is your Network & Employees Protected For Black Friday / Cyber Monday?

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, almost every shopper knows that the infamous Black Friday sales are following close behind. Every year, as prices are slashed for one day only and crowds get frenzied trying to snatch deals up before someone else does, some shoppers even get hurt when people get a little too crazy trying to get value for their money.

But most online shoppers also know about Cyber Monday, the online version of Black Friday that follows the week after, where thankfully there’s a much lower chance of getting hurt. However, what shoppers and business owners may not realize is how massive the online sales event is. According to a comScore report, over $2 billion was spent on online purchases in the US during the 2014 Cyber Monday, compared to only $1.5 billion spent in stores during the Black Friday frenzy!

With a CareerBuilder survey reporting that 54% of workers planned to shop Cyber Monday deals in the workplace, the surge in web traffic from eager shoppers hoping to sneak some sales during work hours may bring a few security risks. For example, in an eagerness to find the best prices, employees may find themselves clicking through dishonest sites looking to exploit credit card information and vulnerable data. Is your business protected from these risks?

1) Allocate breaks for shopping

Although workplace shopping will bring down productivity during the holiday season, it may be unavoidable. Blocking all shopping during work hours may lower employee motivation and result in even less work being done. Consider allotting time for employees to look for sales so they are encouraged to keep productivity up while not missing out on all the incredible Cyber Monday deals.

2) Educate employees

Remind employees to always make sure that if they shop, they’re shopping securely. Online retailers that process payment information for Cyber Monday purchases should have SSL encryption. Inform employees that when paying for a good deal, always make sure that there’s a green lock somewhere near the browser address bar and that the address starts with ‘https:’ which signifies that the connection to the retailer is both private and secure. And of course, they should trust their instincts because if a deal is way too good to be true, it probably isn’t.

3) Block and control access to harmful websites

With web monitoring software like BrowseReporter, it’s not all about trying to control every aspect of employee web traffic even during holiday shopping season. By using tools that keep you informed on what types of web traffic your employees are creating and what sites are being accessed frequently, a web monitoring solution can help you realize when the wrong types of online stores are being accessed and your network safety could be at stake, as well as create metrics on how to best optimize productivity during distraction-prone times like Cyber Monday.

If the distractions become a little overwhelming, a web restricting solution like BrowseControl can give you back the tools you need to ensure employees don’t get too carried away trying to find good value for their shopping dollar. With a comprehensive toolkit allowing everything from filtering retailer sites to scheduling hours where shopping is free-for-all, BrowseControl can put weight behind any decisions you make on how best to manage the workplace during Cyber Monday. With one easy click, network access to a comprehensive list of online stores could be restricted on a convenient toggle.

4) Decide what’s best for your business

Finally, in the age of BYOD workplaces, you could take security to the next step by filtering all of your business’s shopping day traffic on the network with an Internet gateway. According to an IBM Digital Analytics report, 41.2% of Cyber Monday 2014 online traffic came from mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Internet gateways like CurrentWare Gateway offer web restriction functionality in an agentless solution, allowing you to make decisions on the browsing happening in the workspace even when it’s not on a company computer.

So during Cyber Monday 2015, the right tools can return control and insight into what’s really happening on the business network. While endless deals spring up everywhere online, staying informed and ahead of the risks can eliminate the chaos of the holiday shopping season.

By Andy Ma

Sai Kit Chu
Sai Kit Chu
Sai Kit Chu is a Product Manager with CurrentWare. He enjoys helping businesses improve their employee productivity & data loss prevention efforts through the deployment of the CurrentWare solutions.