Online shopping has become a popular way to purchase items without the hassles of traffic and crowds. Online shopping offers convenience and comfort not available from other shopping outlets. From the comfort of your home, you can search for items from multiple sellers, compare prices with a few mouse clicks, get great deals, make purchases without waiting in line, receive your receipt via email, and have them delivered to your front door. The increase in online shopping coincides with an increase in mobile device use, and more shoppers will be using specialized holiday mobile device applications to find the best deals.
Online shopping also makes it lucrative for attackers to trick buyers into paying for goods they will not receive or to obtain their private information for financial gain. The Internet is convenient for attackers, giving them multiple ways to access the personal and financial information of unsuspecting shoppers. Attackers who can obtain this information may make purchases themselves or sell the information to someone else.
It is essential to take steps to protect yourself when shopping online. So, how can you defend yourself? Start with taking security precautions and thinking about the consequences of your online actions. Then you can enjoy the conveniences of technology with peace of mind while you shop online. Before you purchase that must-have item on your holiday list, make sure you that are doing everything that you can to avoid becoming a victim of cybercrime by checking out the following tips. You might think that these tips are apparent, but many consumers do not use them.
Attackers may try to confuse you by creating malicious websites that appear to be legitimate. Fake websites can infect you the moment you arrive at them by way of drive-by-downloads, display malicious links, or expose you to a fraudulent checkout process.
Many websites encrypt information via secure sockets layer (SSL). Look for a website address that starts with “https” instead of “http”. And look for a padlock icon that is closed instead of open. The location of the icon varies by web browser (for example, next to the address bar or at the bottom of the web browser window). Attackers may try to confuse consumers by adding a fake padlock icon. So, ensure that the padlock icon is in the appropriate location for your web browser. Use a web browser extension (such as HTTPS Everywhere) that attempts to connect securely to websites.
Once attackers gain access to your personal and financial information, they can do a lot of damage. So it is imperative to prevent this from happening, as fixing any problems afterward can be time-consuming and costly.
Credit cards are protected by laws that limit your liability for fraudulent credit card charges. However, you may not have the same level of protection for your debit cards and other forms of payment.
Emails, texts, social media posts, and pop-up windows are a popular means for attackers to install malware on devices or steal your personal and financial information. Attackers may create messages that seem to originate from legitimate sellers. Often, such messages tell you that need to take action immediately because something is wrong with your device, account, or transaction.
It can be challenging to recall from which website you purchased a particular product. Keep saved and printed records of your online transactions in a safe location. Such records should include the product description, the price, the online receipt, and the e-mails you send to and receive from the seller. You may need these records to confirm your purchase, to track the shipment, and for warranty and return issues.
Even when you are careful, something unfortunate can happen at any time. Financial data leaks are not always your fault as many businesses are compromised, and their information falls into the hands of attackers. Always be suspicious, and always check the transactions that sellers and financial institutions report to you.
Many viruses and malware are transmitted through casual web browsing. Use a separate device for online shopping, and other devices for email, social networking, banking, work, etc. Many major sellers now have dedicated mobile applications. Mobile applications are more secure online shopping channels than websites since malicious hackers need to create specific attacks for specific mobile applications.
Fortify your online accounts by enabling the most robust authentication tools available (such as biometrics, security keys, and multiple-factor authentication). Your usernames and passwords are not sufficient to protect critical accounts (such as email, banking, and social media).
And after you return from your Thanksgiving holiday, you may want to review the infographic “Protect your data with IDERA”.