Online shopping continues to rise as the dominant method of holiday shopping, after all, it is incredibly convenient. With the undeniable advantages of online shopping, consumers are ordering anything from household appliances, clothing, toys, and even food, delivered to the front door.
As online sales continue to rise, cyberthreats have continued to grow in volume and complexity. Here are a few tips that you should be aware of to ensure your online shopping stays as secure as possible this season:
1. Shop Familiar Websites
The sites you are most familiar shopping on are usually the ones you should continue shopping on. It’s also important to shop on well-known bigger retail chain sites. One of the oldest tricks that scammers will attempt to use is using a different top-level domain (.net instead of .com, for example). Avoid these types of domains if possible, even if the deals look great.
2. Shop Secure Sites
When shopping online you are always giving out valuable content that could leave you vulnerable to a scammer such as your credit card number, name, and home address. With that in mind, ensure you do not make a purchase on a site unless it has SSL (secure sockets layer) encryption installed. You will know if a site has this security feature available if the URL starts with HTTPS rather than HTTP and a lock icon will usually appear before the URL. Many browsers will alert and warn you if you are on an unencrypted connection; pay attention to those warnings.
3. Don’t Shop Through E-mails
Scammers often turn to email to obtain and direct shoppers to fraudulent sites. These attempts continue to grow in complexity so it is imperative you navigate directly to the merchant’s website and locate the deal yourself; Checking the link URLs are not always indicative of a safe or unsafe re-direct.
4. Update Your Software
It’s a good idea, if you plan on doing most of your holiday shopping online, to go ahead and make sure that any anti-virus protection and anti-malware software is installed, updated, and active on your computer before you start your shopping. If you need recommendations on specific anti-virus and other security solutions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us so we can help.
5. Shop Mobile
There is a bit of reluctancy in shopping from your mobile device, however there is an added layer of security when using a store’s mobile app as opposed to their website. Apps provided by retailers ensure you are linked directly to the store and its products.
Our mobile devices are now equipped with mobile payment options (Apple Pay), which are more secure than using a credit card number in most cases. While in the past mobile payments were known to be only accepted in the store, advances now allow many retailers to accept these payments directly through their app, allowing you to skip the store.
Recently reported by CNBC, online shopping in the 2018 holiday season has already seen a substantial increase in sales. $7.8 Billion sales were done online on Cyber Monday and $6.22 billion sales were made online on Black Friday, setting a record for both. Meanwhile, brick-and-mortar sales have dropped 1.7%.
It’s important to remember that cybercriminals are seeking their prey, and their methods are often low-risk high-reward. Education is the first line of defense in thwarting attacks. Be smart, be safe, and have a Merry Christmas. If we can help you and your business with your information technology needs, to include security hardening, access control, and other needs, we’d love to help. Reach out to us via our website, www.halyard-tech.com or send us a message directly to firstname.lastname@example.org.