November 17, 2021
It’s that time of year again! Black Friday and Cyber Monday are just around the corner. If you prefer to avoid the crowds and do your Christmas shopping from your computer, here is what you should know about cyber security and staying safe online.
When making your online purchases, you are much more protected using reliable payment services or a credit card, as these methods are not directly connected to your bank account. If someone is able to hack into your information online, most credit card companies will typically reverse the charge and run an investigation. If a hacker gets their hands on your debit card information, they can drain the contents of your bank account, and the bank may not be able to replace the money until after the investigation has concluded, which can often take weeks or months. As another general rule of thumb, never give more information than is necessary beyond the website’s required fields.
A critical first step before entering any of your information is to make sure that the website you are buying from is secure. An easy way to tell is to look at the beginning of the web address. It should begin with “https”. If the web address is missing the “s” and it appears as just “http”, this indicates that the site is not encrypted. Therefore your data will not be secure.
Scanning the customer reviews section on a product is a good way to tell if the company and product are legitimate. However, watch out for suspicious language that might indicate that the company or someone they hired left that review themselves.
Never make online purchases or enter sensitive information while your phone or computer is connected to a public network! These networks are not secure, so they are essentially an invitation for hackers to steal your personal information. Do all of your banking and shopping at home or on a private network instead to protect yourself from hackers.
Hackers know that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the biggest online shopping days of the year, and they will likely try to take advantage of that any way they can. Look out for emails from hackers posing as brands and advertisements that are actually fake offers. Cash prizes or last-minute deals should always require extra inspection. If it seems suspicious or too good to be true, it probably is. Delete the email as soon as possible.
It sounds simple, but always use secure and unique passwords online. You may be tempted to use the same password for every login out of convenience, but this could lead to several accounts being hacked all at once. Create complicated and varying passwords and keep track of them in a safe, non-hackable location.
Always ensure that your devices are protected by installing security software on them. Some web browser protection software will block malicious links that can lead to scams. Do your research on the best antivirus protection software for your devices.
See this article from LifeLock for more information on these tips, plus additional online shopping safety information.
This summary is for general informational use only and may not include all relevant information.