The Holidays are near, and so are the threats. Here’s how to stay secure while shopping online.
Cyber Monday is almost here, and the shopping neurons in my brain are already going into a frenzy. I assume most of you are in the same boat as me. After all who doesn’t love shopping, right? That’s why I call in sick on every Cyber Monday (don’t tell my boss).
It’s not just Black Friday and Cyber Monday though. The shopping-err, the holiday season is just getting started. It’s that time of the year when the brick-and-mortar stores are full of deals, discounts and…PEOPLE! Consequently, shopping, which is supposed to be fun becomes an exhaustive experience. That’s why, I, like many of you out there, prefer the fluffiness of my couch cushions rather than soreness in my calves.
But online shopping has its own pitfalls. The same way shopping-err, the holiday season activates your shopping neurons; it also enables the demonic neurons in cyber-criminals’ brains. As a result, we see a rise in unlawful activities every year during this period. These activities range from really stupid phishing e-mails to account takeovers to malware infusion. Thereupon, you should keep your eyes open before making any purchase or even visiting a site. Here are our five tips to ensure a safe and fun shopping experience.
1. ‘S’ for Security, ‘S’ for Shopping, and ‘S’ for Sayonara
When you visit a website, there are two main protocols via which data transfer takes place – HTTP and HTTPS. That one little “S” makes all the difference. In this case it stands for ‘Secure.’ If a URL starts with HTTPS, your connection to that website is securely encrypted. It means that sensitive information such as your ID, password, credit card details, etc. will be encrypted and any malicious 3rd party cannot intercept it or tamper with it.
If a website doesn’t have HTTPS or Padlock, say “Sayonara” to that site!
2. Say ‘No’ to Public Wi-Fi
Here’s the thing about the public Wi-Fi networks – they’re NOT SECURE! As much as we love public Wi-Fi, we should keep its use limited to text messages. When it comes to sending your sensitive information to a website/app, public Wi-Fi networks are good for nothing. It took just 10 minutes for a 7-year-old kid to hack into a public Wi-Fi. Yes, a seven-year-old kid!
So, use your own data and stay away from troubles!
3. Use Apps Downloaded from Trusted Sources
Hello Android users. As we all know, it’s much easier to install unauthorized, 3rd party applications on Android than on other platforms. This can be a boon as well as bane because it gives an opportunity to hackers to infuse malware in apps and steal users’ data.
So, always insist on using official apps downloaded from authorized platforms.
4. Skepticism is Goooood
If you ever come across an offer that seems ridiculous at first and tempting secondly, it probably is ridiculous. The attempts to dupe users into clicking are nothing new. Almost everyone on the internet knows about the fake offers for $20 iPads and free smart phone, but it’s our very human nature that keeps them going.
Next time you see one of the BS offers, control your instincts and remember the age-old saying: “If it looks too good to be true, then it probably is!”
5. Think Before You Click and Read Before You Think
Spear-phishing has become the go-to technique of cybercriminals to trick users into clicking on a particular link or visiting a specific webpage. They do this by circulating spoofy e-mails to thousands of users simultaneously. You might believe that the e-mail has been sent from the party it says from. However, that may not always be the case. As a rule of thumb, check the e-mail address of the sender before you click on it or download anything. Also, don’t forget to check what’s written in there. Quite often, they comprise of some really silly grammatical errors.