The holiday shopping season is upon us and many shoppers, rather than brave the holiday crowds, are taking to the cyber streets of the internet to bag that perfect gift.
Be careful though as where there are gifts to be purchased, you can be sure there will also be cyber criminals lurking and waiting to pounce on unsuspecting shoppers. Often online shoppers unwittingly leave themselves open to attack, but follow our tips and you'll keep safe this holiday season (or whenever you shop online).
Here's our five point guide to help shoppers stay safe and beat the Internet fraudsters and criminals this holiday season.
1 - A detail worth looking for is to make sure the websites you are purchasing from are secure and have “https” in the URL when you get to the checkout stage. The “s” ensures security so that when you are in the secure section of a website, you will also see an icon of a locked padlock on your browser, either on the address bar or on the bottom right corner.
2 - Have you noticed how the Internet address bar in your browser goes green, do you know what it means? The green bar can appear on websites you visit that require SSL (the padlock) and have extended validation. The types of sites you will see this on are online shops or sites with which you are exchanging personal data. The green bar means that the site you’ve visited has an ‘extended validation SSL certificate’.
The extended validation is controlled by the authority that granted the certificate, not the website owner. This stops the green bar being abused or used inappropriately as it is delivered separately from the website you are visiting. In basic terms it means that it is more difficult for phishing and online fraud to take place due to the extra party being involved, so look out for this.
3 – Use your common sense and judgment. Shopping with trusted online or high street brands that have a safe reputation is more likely to offer safety.
4 - If you are ever in doubt about any site then you should not transact or give away any personal information. Remember that there are plenty of other online retailers who will most likely offer the same products, while giving you peace of mind.
5 - Finally, and most importantly, make sure you install and maintain up to date Anti-Virus protection and yes, you can (and should) augment this with a firewall and anti-spyware software. The simple way to play safe is to get yourself a core layer of protection as described and then be very aware of the fact that cybercriminals are looking for holes in software, online applications or the operation of browsers and operating systems to gain access to your data. So when your system update function runs and you get the chance to update your computer, please run it!
Don't invite the cyber criminals in.....follow these steps above and shop safely online.
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