Ten ways to protect yourself when shopping online

Over the past few decades, the internet has developed into a dynamic and viable retailing channel, generating billions in online retailing sales. Online shopping has risen fast because of the many benefits associated with it. Nonetheless, we are not 100% safe from cyber attacks.

Shopping on the internet offers convenience and time-saving advantages

Changing consumer lifestyles and lack of time sometimes make it difficult for people to shop at physical locations such as stores and shopping malls. Operating 24/7, the internet can be accessed anytime, anywhere in the connected world. However, everything comes with a price. With great benefits come great challenges as well. While shopping online provides you with a high level of convenience, it also offers cyber criminals the opportunities to steal your personal information and money through various online scams. Individuals are not the only one who

Individuals are not the only one who are affected by cyber crimes. Marketing endeavors are being untangled by the increasing threat of cyber criminals. Online businesses are experiencing losses due to theft of data.From the cyber-attack on Israel’s El Al Airline and national stock exchange to the compromised information on online superstore, Zappos, the headlines are filled with hacking cases. Even though you might have thought of giving up on the internet, it’s not the best of ideas. Instead of eradicating this magical tool, you simply need to keep your information safe while shopping online. Follow these 10 steps below to keep yourself protected from cyber-attacks.

Keeping your information safe while shopping online

Follow these 10 steps below to keep yourself protected from cyber-attacks while buying online.

Be Smart When Choosing Your Websites

Always be careful about the websites you choose. You cannot always tell when a website is legitimate or not. Nowadays, it is very easy for fraudulent businesses to appear reputable by simply designing an attractive website. However, you should trust your gut and stay away from websites who are asking for too much personal information. Just like you wouldn’t go in shopping stores that seem a little off to you, avoid clicking on sites that have weird addresses or fill your screen with multiple pop-ups. Even though you are really tempted with the products or price the site is offering, the best advice is to leave.

Be Cautious on Smartphones

Mobile devices and smartphones have changed business and everyday life in the field of communication and online transactions. Being used as mobile wallet nowadays, smartphones often contain valuable information such as credit card data, bank account numbers, passwords and contact data. They are often the user’s primary repository of personal data as they are carried around all the time. Security risks are just as prevalent in your pocket as they are on your PC, if not to say more. Most phones aren’t equipped with the required anti-virus software and this gives criminals the opportunity to get malware on your mobile devices. Most smartphones come with GPS and if you do not put privacy in your settings, unintentional disclosure of location data may help attackers track and trace you. Make sure your phone is password protected so your information isn’t accessed easily.

Public Wi-Fi Isn’t Safe

With the increasing use of the internet, you can find a Wi-Fi hotspot almost anywhere, in the local café, at universities, in malls or public areas. Wi-Fi is convenient because it is accessible at little or no cost. However, not all public Wi-Fi is secure. Most hotspots don’t encrypt your data, which makes it easier for hackers to access your information with any cheap and easily available software. Software sniffers allow hackers to passively intercept data sent between a browser and server on the internet. Hackers can capture any email, web search or file transfer. Fortunately, you can avoid the risks posed by public Wi-Fi. Protect your mobile device with a personal Virtual Private Network (VPN). It encrypts all the data going into and out of the consumer’s device while blocking hackers from attempting to intercept or change data communications.

Keep an Eye on Your Credit Card

Credit cards are the only smart way to buy your favorite things online. However, there is the risk of credit card fraud. For this reason, it is important that you check your accounts regularly so you would know when something is not right. If you buy something from a scam site using a credit card, check or cash, there is no way you can recover your money. Monitor your bank statement carefully and contact your credit card company if you suspect an unusual transaction through your credit card.

A Virtual Credit Card Number Is Safer

A virtual credit card number (VCN) allows users to shop online without exposing your real account number. It meets the demand for a flexible, secure and convenient way to make payments. The bank can set the time frame and amount upon your request. The number is generated digitally at a point of sale and is used for a single payment only. As the merchant, date and amount can be specified, there is a significant security improvement.

Change Your Passwords Frequently

Passwords are the first line of defense against cyber criminals. Very often, we tend to keep the same password for every account. But if you really want to protect your information while shopping, it is essential to change your passwords every three to six months. For additional security to financial transactions, create and maintain different passwords for login and transactions. Use long passwords made up of numbers, letters and symbols.

Https Is More Secure than Http

Unlike http (hypertext transfer protocol), https (secure hypertext transfer protocol) differentiates one sender and receiver from another. The extra ‘s’ means your connection is secure and it’s harder for anyone to access your information or see what you are doing. Https works in conjunction with SSL (Secure Socket Later) which takes the data going or coming and encrypts it.

Avoid Clicking on Email Links

Phishing is the malicious practice of using email messages to lure you into disclosing personal information. Through phishing, cyber criminals send out mass email containing an attachment or a hyperlink that contains malware. If you get an email from a site you’ve shopped before, don’t follow the links or provide any financial or personal information. Remember that real sites don’t ask for information via email.

Make Sure You Read the Privacy Policy

It is important to check the online retailer’s policy before shopping. Reading the policy helps you know what the company does with users’ information and how it is transmitted. Many people tend to brush this part off due to laziness or inattention. But reading the privacy policy is a must to make sure your personal data isn’t sold to any third parties.

Update Your Browser

If you run a browser that is outdated, your device may be compromised by cyber criminals. Your personal information or data could be stolen or destroyed. So making sure your web browser is up to date will keep you away from thieves. It is also important that you update your operating system and anti-virus software regularly.

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Source : http://www.businessinsurance.org/10-ways-to-stay-safe-when-shopping-online/

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