In recent years, Cyber Monday has become just as well known and perhaps even more popular than Black Friday. While Black Friday is for traditional brick-and-mortar commerce, Cyber Monday is all about online shopping through our computers and, increasingly, on our smartphones and tablets at home or at work.

Indeed, Cyber Monday is probably the only Monday of the year that people actually look forward to going into the office.

Webroot recently surveyed over 1,200 people about the upcoming holiday shopping season and found that over 70% of respondents are preparing to use their tablets and smartphones to make at least one purchase this year.

Although online shopping is certainly convenient, the fact is that the Grinch has also gone digital and, if you’re not careful, you could find yourself with an empty stocking this holiday season.

It’s for that very reason that we’ve compiled these Online Shopping Safety Tips for the Holiday Season.

Tip #1: Beware of Nasty Links in your Email

We know you can’t wait to buy a newest “must- have” product for half off, but make sure you only click on links that you receive from familiar websites or trusted retailers. If you don’t, you could wind up in a phishing scheme and led to a website where hackers steal your important personal or financial data.

Tip #2: Lock your Gadgets

During the holiday season, thieves will be on the lookout for unlocked devices that they can steal and use to make purchases. Always make sure that if you leave your device lying anywhere unattended, it’s locked and secure. Smartphones come with passwords, codes and even fingerprint scanners (iPhone 5s, for example) to make them extra secure, so make sure you use them.

Tip #3: Beware of Bad Apps

Only download apps from a trusted app store or online platform. Amazon, iTunes and Google Play are safe, secure and have everything you need, so why go anywhere else? Nonetheless, regardless of where you procure your apps, if you’re an application ever begins requesting information that doesn’t seem appropriate, delete it.

Tip #4: Shop at Home

The most secure place to do online shopping is the one with the most secure network and, in most cases, that’s either in your home or at work. Using public Wi-Fi is convenient, but if you’re typing in sensitive information to make an online purchase (credit card info, Social Security number, etc.) it could easily be hacked by someone sitting nearby.

Tip #5: Secure your Holiday Season

Webroot found that less than 40% of the people they interviewed were using a security app on their smartphone or tablet. These programs are usually offered for free or at a very low cost and can mean the difference between a happy holiday and a tearful one.

The simple fact remains that the holidays are a time of joy, giving and sharing. But, unfortunately, it’s also the time of year when thieves are busier then elves. Just as you would exercise extreme caution with your cash or credit cards in public, do the same when you shop online. While the Grinch may have ended up being a pretty nice fella at the end of the story, cyber thieves are just plain relentless and incorrigible. So protect yourself from them and you’ll be all set to safely enjoy the most cheerful season of shopping there is.

Image courtesy of Naypong / FreeDigitalPhotos.net