Security Tips for On-Line Shopping

Article by Ron Frechette

In today’s Digital Age, especially as the holidays draw near, the majority of shopping will happen online.  The convenience factor alone far outweighs the daunting tasks of fighting the traffic, holiday crowds, pushy salespeople, and finding out only after we have traveled a great distance that special gift we had in mind for our loved one is sold out. It makes me think of the 1996 holiday movie with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sinbad, “Jingle All The Way.”

With the touch of a few buttons, virtual stores allow us to shop from the comfort of our homes.  It’s not uncommon to be invited to a neighborhood holiday shopping party where everyone brings a digital device, a favorite dish, and a bottle of wine.  Everyone sits around listening to holiday music and enjoying one another’s company as they shop.  If one store is out of a product, we just click to the next one, and may even find a better deal. Talk about convenience… and fun!

There is no doubt both businesses and consumers have embraced online shopping as an economical and more convenient way to shop, but like anything associated with the internet, there are benefits and dangers associated.  It is estimated ecommerce fraud cost businesses and consumers over $58 billion in 2017 and expected to rise in 2018.  The holidays are peak season for both online retail outlets and cyber criminals.  It is the time of year we need to be mindful and vigilant about protecting our information. So, for this month, in an effort to help our readers have a joyous holiday season, we are going to share some best practices for shopping online.

On-Line Shopping Best Practices

  • Increase Your Device Security Settings: Make sure to install antivirus and anti-phishing programs on your computer. An antivirus program will protect your computer from viruses and an anti-phishing program will attempt to protect you from websites that are designed to look like legitimate sites, but actually collect your personal information for illegal activities. If multi-factor authentication is available, use it. Make sure to enable alerts and notification on your accounts so that you get alerted on any suspicious activity.
  • Limit Providing Personal Identifiable Information (PII): Online outlets do not have the right to ask for certain information. If a website requests anything other than a credit card (like a DOB or SSN), it is most likely a scam. Research the company requesting the information or exit that site as quickly as possible.
  • Use Strong Passwords: When choosing a password, make sure to choose a strong password that is unique to that account. If you have multiple accounts and passwords, use a password and privileged account vault to make it easier to manage and secure them. Never use the same password for multiple accounts. Convert to using password phrases (ex. !_lOvE_tHaNx&iViNg#2018)
  • Use Multiple Identities: Create multiple accounts to reduce the risk of compromise. For example, setup multiple email accounts: one for on-line shopping, one for communicating, one for subscriptions, one for public WiFi and other services that require an email address.
  • Always Use a Credit Card vs Debit Card: When making online purchases, first make sure that website is using HTTPS. Always use a credit card for on-line purchases. Using a debit card has far less protection and can cause much greater harm if it were to get into the wrong hands.

In closing, shopping online is the way of the future, but we have to protect ourselves.   Make sure your computer is protected with the proper security settings before you begin any transaction that involves sensitive information. Be proactive in your research, think before you click and remain vigilant at all times!  Wishing everyone Happy Thanksgiving and safe online shopping experiences this season!

GoldSky Security offers small and medium sizes business cybersecurity solutions across the US and currently has offices in Orlando, Florida and in Denver, Colorado.

Questions? Send me a tweet: @GoldSkyRon or email ron.frechette@goldskysecurity.com