Do Black Friday sales & Christmas shopping put your network at risk?

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Should we let employees shop online?

Bargain hunters and Christmas shoppers create productivity and cyber security risks at work

Although Black Friday fatigue may appear to have set in for many UK shoppers, with cynicism about the deals available and environmental concerns around over-consumption kicking in, PricewaterhouseCoopers’ research shows that we intend to spend more money than last year in the annual November shopping “event”.

Beaming’s own survey revealed that almost a fifth of Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping activity was to be conducted by people at work, impacting on productivity and increasing the potential for cyber security problems. With Christmas looming and schedules getting ever-busier, the temptation to sneak in a bit of online Christmas shopping at work remains high throughout December.

According to Beaming’s snap poll…

  • 41% of people polled planned to start their online shopping sprees during office hours (9am – 5pm) on Black Friday, with a third of these beginning at 9am. 35% of people were to start shopping online during office hours on Cyber Monday.
  • 71% of those polled said they would visit online retailers on Black Friday, compared to 67% on Cyber Monday. On average, online shoppers intended to spend two and a half hours engaging with internet retailers on Black Friday and two and a quarter hours shopping online on Cyber Monday.
  • While 18% of online shoppers planned to shop during their breaks and 16% said their employers trusted them to make up any lost time, 6% of people told Beaming they would need to shop in secret while at work.
  • 5% of online shoppers said they planned to “pull a sickie” on Black Friday or Cyber Monday to provide more time for internet bargain hunting and pre-Christmas shopping.

Should we let employees shop online? 

‘Tis the season of goodwill, and though few employers are likely to encourage staff to trawl the online shops for bargains in favour of getting on with their work,  allowing online shopping activity during break times could be a good way to make sure productivity is maintained during working hours.

Managing people & networks on Black Friday, Cyber Monday and beyond.

Sonia Blizzard comments: “Black Friday and Cyber Monday are now firm fixtures in the UK’s online shopping calendars. While good news for e-commerce retailers and customers, these events have the potential to harm productivity and expose businesses to greater cyber security risk. Companies need to think about how they manage this.”

“The main threat of these big retail events is cyber-crime. When people trawl the internet for bargains they become easy prey for the kind of retail click bait criminals use to infect corporate systems. Clicking on one erroneous link can expose a business, its entire network and everyone they trade with to greater risk of data theft and computer viruses, the bills for which can be enormous.”

“Employers can use Black Friday and Cyber Monday as an opportunity to educate their people. They should have honest conversations about cyber security, encourage people to speak up if there is any possibility of a breach and create goodwill by allowing staff to shop online during their breaks but we would recommend that this is done away from their desks. Allowing staff to access a separate internet connection on their own devices is the best way to keep this kind of traffic off the main business network and minimise the risk of damage to systems.”

Our top three tips for managing online shoppers at work

  1. Spoof emails are rife at this time of year, with scammers using enticing (but fake) deals to part internet users from their money or personal details. Make sure your email spam filtering is up to the job of catching these emails, and that staff know how to spot a scam in case one does make it into their inbox.
  2. A Universal Threat Management (UTM) system combines various measures to block cyber threats, including disallowing access to online shopping websites to make sure productivity is maintained.
  3. If you wish to create good will by allowing some online shopping, make sure employees are able to do so on a separate WiFi network using their own devices.

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