Five Tips For Ensuring Cyber Security When Online Shopping
By Jeremy Louise | November 4th, 2015
Updated: November 20, 2018
Believe it or not – we’re on our way to the holiday season, full steam ahead! Whether or not you find yourself giving gifts at this time of year, you probably do a bit of online shopping. Who doesn’t? Black Friday sales have begun creeping earlier and earlier every year, and retailers capitalize on workers sitting at their desks the Monday after Thanksgiving by putting on some pretty enticing Cyber Monday sales.
With all of the benefits of online shopping it’s easy to forget that it’s also something that needs to be done safely and securely. After all, you’re putting nearly every single piece of identifying information possible out into the world – your full name, shipping and billing addresses, email address, and of course, your credit card number. Sometimes you might even be putting other sensitive information – such as your birthday if you’re signing up for a store loyalty program, or your social security number if you’re signing up for a store credit card – out there. And none of that is information you want to mess around with.
Whether you’re shopping for family and friends, or buying yourself a little treat, here are 5 tips to keep yourself (and your bank account!) safe this holiday shopping season.
- Keep It Clean. Your machine, that is. Whether you’re browsing and shopping sales via a desktop, smartphone, or tablet be certain that you’ve got the latest software and security updates installed. In addition to occasionally adding a cool new feature, these updates are what patch holes that hackers might exploit.
- Make Sure It’s Secure. When you navigate to a website you’ll be able to tell if their site sends data – including your credit card information – securely simply by looking at the browser bar. Across the major web browsers a little closed lock will show at the start of the URL to signify that their site is secure. Some retailers or payment processing companies have even higher levels of security which are denoted by showing the full company name and URL information, rather than just the URL.
- Stay Alert. If it hasn’t already, your inbox is sure to be inundated with messages from every retailer you’ve ever given your email address to boasting about the deals of a lifetime. Be wary! Before clicking on any links, verify that the email is actually coming from the sender you think it’s coming from. Better yet, just navigate directly to the website of the store you’re interested in. If there are deals available via email, you can probably get them right from the website too – and if the email has a coupon code in it, you can always enter that in at checkout. (Also, be vigilant – the deals around this time of year are generally awesome, but if something looks too good to be true it probably is.)
- Check Your Payment Method. One of the most secure ways to make purchases online is by using a credit card. Your debit card is linked directly to your bank account, which means if a nefarious villain gets access to it once, they can drain the entire account and possibly get into other attached accounts. By using your credit card you can work with the issuing bank to dispute charges and it keeps the bad guys hands out of your savings.
- Keep Watching. We’ve all been there – you got a little too generous and busted your holiday budget a bit. It’s tempting to simply avoid looking at your bank statements and credit card bills for a while to let the sting wear off, but don’t do it! In order to track fraudulent charges you’ve got to at least skim your statements. Obviously you want to keep an eye out for any large purchases or withdrawals that you know you didn’t make, but also look for small purchases – $5 here, $10 there. Some schemers take little amounts of money over long period of time, because they know those are less likely to be caught.
For more information on keeping your systems safe and secure, call us at (508) 543-6979.