We get it; online shopping security isn’t the sexiest topic out there, but understanding a little about how to protect yourself could save you from the clutches of online fraud.
We’ve already seen record online spending this November and there’s likely more to come in December, which is why online shopping security is something we need to discuss.
Online shopping security and what’s waiting in the darkness
There’s a more sinister side to the web that most people hardly think about.
I’m referring to the threats waiting online.
Cybercriminals have become smarter and they’re using less sophisticated tools to perpetrate their acts.
Symantec’s 2017 Internet Security Threat Report states that cybercriminals are causing ‘unprecedented levels of disruption with relatively simple tools.’
It also shares that the average ransomware attack demands $1,077 per victim.
What you can do to protect yourself
While all seems bleak, there are ways to protect yourself.
In this blog post, I’ll share five tips on how to make online shopping security easy to manage.
You won’t need a degree or any special certification either because anyone is capable of learning and applying these tips.
1. The spot-check
HTTP stands for Hyper-text Transfer Protocol. It’s the foundation of the web and is the protocol used to transfer content across it.
For example, when you type the domain of a website into your browser and hit enter, the server hosting that website grabs the HTML files, images and other elements, and sends it to you using HTTP.
The problem with HTTP is that it’s not secure, and when it comes to online shopping security, you want to see an ‘S’ at the end of the HTTP.
Once you’ve established that the website is secured, the next step is to make sure that it stays that way on the checkout page.
This is important, as the checkout page is where you’re going to enter your credit card information. If the site is not secure (HTTP missing the ‘S’), something’s fishy and you shouldn’t proceed.
Doing so would be akin to shouting out your credit card number in a shopping mall and hoping no-one uses your details to go shopping.
2. Stay away from apps not available through trusted app stores
Downloading an app is the easiest thing in the world to do these days. What most people don’t know, is that downloading apps from random websites is a dangerous thing.
While there have been instances of Apple Store apps being infected with malware, it’s a better practice to stay away from standalone websites offering app downloads.
This may be harder for Android users, because Android apps are less regulated and easier to install, but resist the urge.
3. Some deals really are too good to be true
While there will be a fair amount of sales over the festive season, keep an eye out for those that are just too good to pass on. They may just be attempts to steal your credit card information, or worse.
It doesn’t take much to build a website today, or get a free domain validated SSL certificate to make it look official.
As you visit websites with amazing offers this holiday season, exercise a little skepticism because it could save you a whole lot of money.
4. Keep your antivirus software updated
Antivirus software is a must, but it only works if you let it.
Ensure that your antivirus software updates take place daily and that you let it complete necessary scans.
If you’re skeptical about your current solution, we suggest you try Norton.
It works, and could be the last line of defense between your personal information and a hacker looking for a Christmas bonus.
5. Watch out for phishing emails
Phishing’s a big problem and has been for years.
This year, make sure you don’t fall for scams that involve amazingly low discounts that have been emailed to you.
Our rules for validating special email offers are as follows:
Check the sender’s email address
If the email doesn’t come from an email address you know, leave it be. Often, hackers and scammers send emails from free email accounts (Gmail and Yahoo!) with their special offers.
Don’t click on any attachment
Most email marketers know that attachments don’t help email marketing campaigns as they can make email delivery harder. Less delivered emails mean less sales.
Scammers often attach documents and other files which contain malware. As soon as the files are clicked on, the malware is let loose on your computer.
If you receive any emails with attached offers, delete them.
Vet the deal
If the deal looks like one that you can’t pass on, vet it by locating the company online and calling them to confirm the offer.
IMPORTANT: If the deal comes from a brand you don’t know or have never heard of, stay away. Unsolicited email (SPAM) is how most phishing scams originate.
This holiday, online shopping security is something all South Africans need to pay attention to. Unsecure and fake websites, crazy deals and fishy emails are likely to come your way, but if you pay attention to the tips shared in this blog post, you could save yourself from an unhappy holiday.
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