Cyber Monday is the day when all employers cringe. This is because many employees will spend a portion of their day making online holiday purchases instead of working.
“Cyber Monday is the Monday after Black Friday, the Friday following Thanksgiving in the United States, and was created to persuade people to shop online. The term made its debut on November 28, 2005, and the day has become the heaviest online shopping day of the year. Cyber Monday has become an international marketing term used by online retailers in Canada, the United Kingdom, Portugal, Germany, Chile, Colombia, and Japan.” (1)
Each year since 2005, online sales have been on the rise. (2)
However, “American employers have been cracking down on employees using company equipment and company time for non-work-related purposes. As of November 2011, 22% of employers had fired an employee for using the Internet for non-work related activity; 7% of human resource managers surveyed had fired an employee for holiday shopping; and 54% of employers were blocking employees from accessing certain websites.” (3)
But, for employees who will allocate some of their Cyber Monday making purchases before work starts, during lunch or breaks, or at the end of the day, here are TEN TIPS to stay safe on the largest online activity day of the year.
 Make sure your desktop computer, laptop, smartphone, or mobile device has anti-virus protection.
 If you use your laptop or mobile device at a coffee shop or other location with free Wi-Fi, don’t share your personally identifiable information (PII) until you get home. If you’re on the road and use your laptop or mobile device in an airport, don’t use the airport Wi-Fi because hackers have been known to set up bogus access points to steal your info. No matter where the free Wi-Fi is, only use it if you have access to a virtual private network (VPN).
 But if you see something that you or a family member or friend simply cannot live without and you decide to enter your credit card or other personal information online, make sure that the website’s URL starts with HTTPS and not just HTTP because the HTTPS encrypts the information you enter (credit card details, etc.)
 If you use review sites such as Yelp, Angie’s List, etc., take the comments with a grain of salt – they may not be accurate and can be untrue.
 While Apps may ask for access to your personal information, you can click “no.”
 Disable the GPS location-sharing function on your phone and mobile devices. There may be times when you don’t want your location included with your online activities.
 There will be many emails in your email box during the holiday season, so be careful when you click on what looks like an email confirmation for a purchase, when in fact, the email could contain a virus once you click “open.” Only open emails from people or businesses you are expecting to hear from.
 Some sites request a password. Use a different password than what you use for your regular sites.
 This is very important: Log off from a site once you complete a transaction.
Of course, employers have another option. You could unblock E-commerce sites that are known to be safe for a few hours during Cyber Monday and allow employees access under the watchful eyes of the IT Department. This may not eliminate malware or a security breach, but it will greatly reduce the potential.
SOURCES FOR THIS POST:
 Wikipedia: Cyber Monday
 Cyber Monday Online Sales – Source: comScore
 Shopping on the Clock: Cyber Monday in the Workplace Infographic
Image Credit: Iamnee via FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.