COVID-19 coupled with the madness of crowds on Black Friday has many consumers opting to stay home and do their deal hunting from the comfort of their living room on Cyber Monday. With the shop at home season upon us, and more people punching in their credit card information online, we thought it was a great time to encourage safe online shopping habits. While we can't keep you safe from stampeding crowds, we can help keep you safe while shopping online.
4 Ways to Stay Safe Shopping Online
- Be careful with your clicks.
- Only shop if there's a lock
- Don't shop on hotspots
- Use strong and unique passwords
1.) Be careful with your clicks
Our inboxes are bombarded with promotional emails this time of year. Most are legitimate offers, but a sneaky few are bound to be phishing emails trying to trick you into handing over your personal information.
As you take advantage of deals, your inbox will fill up with updates about your order status. Make sure to double-check the sender's email address for typos, a sure indicator of a phishing email.
Be vigilant and look out for these common deceptions:
- Extra added letters in a domain, like samsclubb.com
- ‘rn’ disguised as 'm’ such as in potterybam.com
- 1’s disguised as l’s, as in Koh1s.com
- Added affixes such as target.com-dresses.us
2.) Only shop if there's a lock
If you're using your credit card to shop online, you need to be sure that the website is protecting your information during the transmission of data from your computer to their server.
Websites that enable security through SSL (security socket layer) encrypt data transmissions, making it safe to hand over your credit card information. Look for that little lock in the address bar and a URL with “HTTPS” instead of “HTTP.”
3.) Don't shop on hotspots
Open public Wi-Fi networks, like those at coffee shops and airports, are extremely dangerous. Hackers can intercept communications between you and the Wi-Fi connection point.
Instead of talking directly with the hotspot, you end up sending your information to the hacker. In this instance, the hacker has access to all the information you send out—emails, phone numbers, credit card information.
If you frequently use public Wi-Fi, you should consider purchasing a VPN. A VPN (virtual private network) will encrypt your traffic passing through the public Wi-Fi hotspots. For safe browsing, always use protection.
4.) Use strong and unique passwords
Consider ditching passwords for passphrases like "CyberAwareness1$Great" and make them different for each site.
That way if one of your passwords is exposed, you won't have to worry about compromises on any (or all) of your other accounts. It makes managing the fallout after a breach easier and less stressful.
Don’t ever use your work email or any variation of your work password on any third-party websites. If you use your work email and password on one of these sites and they get breached, it can put your whole organization at risk.
If you're concerned about the exposure of your work email on third-party websites, it may be time to consider Dark Web monitoring for your usernames and passwords.