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‘Tis the season for cyber shopping. During the holidays, many of us prefer the convenience of online shopping to avoid the crowds and take advantage of deals for everyone on our shopping list.
It’s also an ideal time for cybercriminals looking to take advantage of unsuspecting online shoppers. When you share personally identifying information such as credit card information, birth dates and addresses online, you could be giving a cybercrook a very nice present.Here are a few tips and tricks to use when doing your holiday shopping online.
How Should I Search For Deals?
It’s a smart idea to avoid using generic search terms like “online holiday deals” in your preferred web browser. Criminals know how frequently people use such terms and populate search engines with such phrases that can lead unsuspecting shoppers to illegitimate websites.
Instead, go to websites you trust directly. The deals are likely to be prominently displayed on the retailers’ pages.
Can I Trust Amazing Holiday Shopping Deals?
The adage about something being too good to be true is especially relevant during the holidays. If you find a site advertising a big-ticket item for hundreds of dollars below what every other site is advertising, be suspicious. Use common sense to determine whether an online deal seems far-fetched. In most cases, online retailers will be selling popular items for around the same price. An outlier is likely not legit.
How Can I Handle All the Holiday Shopping Emails?
The best thing you can do to manage your inbox during the holidays is not to click. Even if it’s a trusted retailer that you regularly use, you can be tricked by phishing schemes into visiting sites that may look at first glance like the real thing. If you see something that catches your eye, go to the retailer’s website directly.
One way to test if an email is legit is to hover over the From email address or the link itself. Phishers will make those hyperlinks seem like they’re coming from a valid site and sender. But the reality is that the links go to sites that are not trustworthy.
Can I Tell If a Site Is Secure?
When shopping online, you always want to look for the lock. In the top left of the address bar, you want to see a closed padlock next to the URL. You ‘ll also want to be sure the web address starts with https, not just http. These indicators mean that your data is encrypted, able to be accessed only by the website and you. Any legitimate online commerce site will use these protocols when building their websites. Hackers are unlikely to do the same.
When Can I Know I’m on the Right Site?
Here’s another trick to look for when doing your holiday online shopping: Check the spelling. Hackers love to create sites that add or subtract one letter from the URL name. Be sure you’re not being tricked by going to Target or Amazon instead of the retailers you intended to browse.
If I’m Out and About, Is It Safe to Shop Online?
The network you use matters a great deal. Don’t use a public network when you’re on a mobile device and need to make a purchase. Public networks are not safe for online shopping. These networks are prime hunting grounds for cybercriminals looking to steal credit card information. Because public wireless networks are not encrypted, it’s far easier to take credit card information in transit from your smartphone or tablet. Your chances of getting hacked are much more significant on these unsecured networks.
If you must shop on a public network, be sure to use a VPN, which will encrypt the traffic, before making a purchase.
Is My Device Safe to Use?
No matter when you’re doing any online shopping, be sure your device is updated and secure. There should be anti-virus and anti-malware programs installed on any desktop computer, smartphone, tablet or laptop you’re using. These programs should be set to scan continuously and update automatically. Otherwise, a hacker could gain access to personal information stored on the device or even record every keystroke you make.
Who Can Help Make Sure I’m Protected When Shopping Online?
Keeping your online shopping experiences safe means having the right tools and support. At LAN Infotech, we specialize in business security solutions that keep systems and devices protected during the holidays and throughout the year. To learn more about our security services, contact us today.