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cybersecurity tips for online shopping

Cybersecurity Tips for Online Shopping

Online Shopping
via Pixabay

Online shopping is not something new that suddenly popped out of nowhere. In fact, it has been long known. Now, no matter where you go, everyone shops online.

With the rise in mobile technology, the number of people shopping online has even increased. 

Mobile devices make shopping online easier and faster. It has even been exacerbated by the ongoing pandemic.

People shop online for convenience. They can access different products, order them, and get to receive them in their footsteps. It has even been more impactful when the pandemic happened, as people get to access goods like groceries and clothing anytime they need them.

But as people shift the way they use the internet and shopping behavior, so are cybercriminals. As people choose to buy stuff online, cybercriminals find ways to exploit any vulnerabilities for their benefit.

There are plenty of threats that can be encountered by users when shopping online. One can fall for a phishing scam. It happens when personal information is stolen from them. Meanwhile, others can experience buying on fake websites. That’s why practicing tips on how to shop online safely should be of utmost importance.

Shouldn’t It be the Business’s Responsibility?

You may think, shouldn’t it be the business’s responsibility to keep your data safe? Yes, and no.

Yes. Businesses should take responsibility for keeping their website safe. They need to employ the best practices and tools that can keep site and server encrypted. 

If you want to know how a business should keep online transactions safe, you can read it here.

No. Online security shouldn’t only be the burden of businesses. Customers should take responsibility to protect themselves from threats. If you want to experience the best and safest online practices, you need to keep using tools and follow guidelines to secure your identity.

That’s why we want you to know how to protect yourself. Here is a list we have put together, so you’ll know safe online shopping tips, how to use credit cards online safely, and so on.

What Are Safety Tips for Online Shopping?

Shop from Websites That Are Secured

First things first, check if the website you are browsing is safe. There are plenty of ways to determine if a website is safe to visit.

You can check the URL on top of the web page. Make sure that the online shop you are browsing has HTTPS and a padlock symbol. It’s a sign that the website you are visiting uses an SSL certificate. 

SSL certificate is a tool used by online shops to encrypt the server. That means every data transferred from your computer to their server is encrypted. It’s safe from prying eyes.

Use trusted retailers online. If you have found one, stick to them by bookmarking their websites instead of typing their name on the browser. You might accidentally click on a fake website that looks like the real one. Using your details on a fake website can lead to identity theft.

You can also do some research. Try to read about reviews and testimonials of people online or on social media. You can see if the website or e-commerce store you are planning to make a purchase is safe and has a good reputation.

Use Strong Passwords

Some businesses require their customers to create accounts. When doing so, make sure to use strong passwords.

Passwords are the first line of defense on every account. It’s the first thing a hacker needs to know to access an account. Therefore, make sure to use a complex one.

A complicated password must have a combination of upper and lower characters, symbols, and numbers. It should have at least eight characters. To keep it even stronger, don’t use passwords that are based on any personal information. Try using words not available in the dictionary.

Also, make sure that the password is not used on your other accounts.

Don’t Save Your Details

Online businesses require you to log in, so you can save some of your details. It prevents returning customers to painstakingly input their data. 

But choosing not to save your details is a good practice. It avoids identity theft whenever the website has been hacked. 

It’s better to input the necessary information.

Don’t Use Debit Cards

Debit cards are linked to your bank account. If your debit card information is stolen, your money in the bank is at risk. Therefore, it is best to use a credit card. In fact, this is the only time that it pays off to put it on plastic. 

Another reason for using a credit card, it has better fraud prevention and protection. If a fraudulent activity happens on your account, you can have time to dispute charges, and an investigation can go on. Also, credit card accounts are temporarily put on hold when suspicious activity is detected.

You can also use payment services to avoid sharing any details that have a direct link to your bank account.

Monitor Your Credit Card Statement

One way to be sure your finances and credit card statements are correct, monitor them proactively.

Do a daily or weekly check on your credit card activities. You can see if there are purchases you didn’t make. Also, you can request notifications or alerts when you have reached a certain amount.

Being proactive when checking your statements can help you detect any fraudulent activity before it becomes worse.

Use Secure Internet Connection

Mobile devices are convenient technology that we can be able to bring with us anywhere we go. Hence, we can connect to any network we want, even free ones. But we have to be cautious.

Unsecured Wi-Fi connection is where most hackers like to stay or hide. They wait for their next victim anytime they connect to the free Wi-Fi in their coffee shop or library. 

As much as possible, don’t use a public internet connection. However, if you cannot avoid it, using a VPN is the best option.

VPN is a Virtual Private Network that encrypts connection by changing the IP address and keeping data safe from prying eyes. You can read about VPNs in this article and get some ideas of the best VPN you can use.

You can also activate your firewall network on your device or get one for your computer. A firewall technology can monitor all the traffic that goes in and out of your network. Any suspicious activities can be detected and blocked.

Be Careful on Offers

When browsing online, we want to get the best deals. Often we seek products or shops that offer a lower price. But you have to be careful when buying low-priced items, especially when it’s far different from its competitors.

Some webshops that offer a low price for an item can have the following purpose or reasons:

  • Item is illegally sourced
  • Different from the image
  • Cheaper version
  • May not receive the item
  • Steal personal information

That’s why make sure you are only buying on reputable sites. Online shops can offer discounts or sales. But if the price is too low than its competitors, you have to think twice before buying an item.

Disable Autocomplete Feature

Similar to storing credit card information on a shop’s server, avoid keeping it on your browser. You can do so by enabling the autocomplete feature.

By disabling this feature, you don’t have to be wary about any hacker getting to steal your financial information in your browser.

Chrome:

  • Settings > Advanced > Passwords and Forms > Autofill Settings > Delete all details and off the Autofill Forms

Firefox

  • Options > Privacy & Security > History > Use Custom Setting for History > uncheck Remember Search and Form History.

Safari

  • Preference > AutoFill > uncheck Remember Form Data and the Credit Card option

Update Your System

Maintaining the quality and health of your device needs updates on both the system and software installed.

Updates are crucial for two reasons – patch system vulnerabilities and offer new features. The latter is only a bonus. What’s most important is getting your system’s vulnerabilities fixed.

Whenever updates are available, install them. Or, you can set a schedule on when you can install your updates.

Use an Antivirus Software

To protect your online shopping activities and monitor threats or fake websites, use an antivirus software application.

You don’t have to use the most expensive or fanciest brand. All you need is a program that can keep you secure.

In fact, you can use basic antivirus software like Norton Antivirus Plus, Panda Dome Essentials, or Bitdefender Antivirus Plus.

Also, you can secure multiple devices with Kaspersky Total Security, Webroot SecureAnywhere, or Norton Security Premium.

Never Click on Links 

We often receive promotional emails from our favorite retailer, which is superb. We get to see new products and coupons for sale items. However, it’s hard to differentiate a legitimate source from a phishing email.

That’s why the best way to prevent identity theft, never to click on links on any email or text you receive. Instead, go to the website directly by typing the web address on the browser.

Enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)

2FA is additional security you can include to protect your accounts and any online transactions. It prevents hackers from gaining access to your accounts once they’ve deciphered your password.

2FA can be a PIN or code received via email or SMS. Sometimes, it can also be a biometric authentication like a fingerprint.

Be Careful When Downloading a Shopping App

There are plenty of apps available for mobile users to download. Even giant e-commerce stores have their own. But when downloading an app, pay attention to the app.

You need to learn to see if an app is safe to install or not. We have written an article about how to know if an app is safe. Read about it so you can be vigilant when installing something on your device.

Lock Your Device or Apps

Smartphones and tablets have the option to add a lock on their screen. You can prevent anyone from having access to your device, especially if it’s missing. The same goes with the app lock.

Check the Shops Shipping and Return Policy

Online shops should be transparent about their shipping rules and return policy. If none is stated clearly, it’s time to move on to another shop.

You can also check if the shop provides insurance and tracking number for the shipped items. Make sure that they offer returns on physical items if necessary. That’s why you have to read about their policy to be sure.

Create an Email Address for Online Shopping 

There’s nothing wrong when using your private email. But it has all of your valuable information linked to it, such as your social security, bank, insurance, and more. That’s why it’s better to create a dedicated email for shopping only.

Aside from protecting other financial information using your private email, it reduces the likelihood of opening a malicious email. In such a way, you can secure your personal email since you’ll know if a promotional email is fake or not.

Final Words

You need to protect your accounts to keep them safe from possible attacks and fraudulent activities. Although these practices aren’t going to give complete protection, they can still reduce cyber attacks. With reliable and secure businesses, plus your effort to protect your information as a customer, you can guarantee your financial detail’s safety.

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