Planning to Shop Online This Holiday Season? Here’s Some Tips to Keep You Safe

November 20, 2017Nov 20, 2017

About 80 percent of computer users with an Internet connection have purchased something online in the past month, according to CSO Online. And as the holiday season begins to ramp up, that percentage is likely to go up. Here are some tips to help you and your family stay safe from cybercriminals itching to separate you from your money. 

Cybercriminals are aware of the pitfalls created through ecommerce. Using fake shopping sites, phishing and email scams, infected web links and applications, and techniques to steal personal and financial data, they are ready in a myriad of ways to steal your money.

First, it’s important to make sure that you are using a secured wireless connection. WPA2, the protocol used to encrypt data moving between a computer and wireless access points, was broken recently. It may be a good idea to refrain from shopping online at public venues.

This is because a hacker may advertise a “Free Coffeeshop Wi-Fi” hotspot, which is actually a fake access point. Once you convey information across it, it may be too late. The hacker could capture all the traffic moving between you and your online shopping site, bank, or social media account.

Watch for fake apps. This is especially important on android phones, because of the malware that might download with it—especially apps not downloaded from the official Android apps store.

Use your credit card and not your debit card. Most credit cards have built-in fraud protection. Some of them offer two-factor authentication when accessing bank accounts online.

Make sure your connection is secure. Verifying that the URL on your browser is correct (that it starts with https:// rather than http://) is a subtle clue that the website your accessing isn’t legitimate.

Use a VPN connection when possible. A VPN (virtual private network) is a good idea of you like to shop at public places frequently. A VPN service can be found at low or no cost. This would help ensure that your connection is always protected.

Don’t click on links in an email or on a website unless you check them first. A way to do this is to hover your mouse over the link to see the URL. Check to make sure that it looks normal. For example, does it replace letters with numbers, such as

Look at your bank and credit card statements online during heavy shopping periods. The quicker you spot an unauthorized transaction, the faster you can get them resolved, which would help limit your exposure.

These are just a few tips to help ensure that you and your family will be safe while shopping online during this holiday season. What do you think of this? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page. Find out about Carrie Underwood’s recovery after she fell outside her home recently. 

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