Christmas is a joyful time for celebrating the holiday season with family and friends but the days leading up to the festivities can be stressful – when you have to think about gift shopping. Online shopping has exploded in the past few years and everyone will agree that the convenience and competitive prices offered is a boon to us whose to-do lists never seem to end.
However, online security is a serious cause for concern. While shoppers are busy filling their carts on shopping sites, cyber fraudsters are equally busy breaking into networks and stealing personal and financial information. There are ways to safeguard yourself from online fraud, so don’t leave your security to chance. Anthony Giandomenico, senior security strategist at Fortinet, a high-performance cyber security provider, tells us the about precautionary measures we can take:
- Never perform confidential transactions over public wifi connections. This means to say refrain from performing online banking or shopping online, for instance, using the free wifi service at your favourite coffee shop. If anyone can gain easy access to the wireless network, it’s basically an open highway for cyber hackers to intercept your connection and using it to steal your credit card information, passwords and other personal data.
- Practise safe surfing. Here are practical measure you can take protect yourself when shopping online:
– Make sure the apps, software and antivirus on your digital devices are updated and patched. Sometimes people assume that their mobile device is more secure than their laptop, but that is simply no longer true today.
– Be careful when downloading new holiday apps, especially on Android phones as apps downloadable from Google Play tend to be less regulated.
– Most credit cards have built-in fraud protection (compared to debit cards). Check with your bank or your card provider to learn more about the protection your card offers. Make sure that the online retailer uses a secure checkout system that accepts major credit cards. Avoid sites that require direct bank-in payments from your bank account, wire transfer, or untraceable forms of payment.
– Make sure you have a secure connection. Look out for the small lock icon on your browser. When you are about to make a purchase, look at the address bar of your browser and confirm that it starts with “https://” instead of than http://. That extra “s” stands for secure so you’d do well to always look out for it before doing a transaction.
- Be careful when going on unfamiliar sites. Look at the website design.
– Does it look professional? Are the links accurate and fast? Are there lots of pop-ups, which is a bad sign?
– Read the text. Poor grammar, vague descriptions and misspelled words are all giveaways that a site is probably illegitimate.
– Pay extra attention when clicking onto advertisements whether it be sent via emails or on web sites. Drift your cursor over the link and you should be able to see the URL. Check the URL for any suspicious signs of fraud such as long names and a whole lot of hyphens or numbers. If you experience bad feelings down to your guts, it’s a good idea to abandon the shopping session and log out completely.
Finally, don’t go gaga over ridiculously low prices, especially when you come across a high availability of hard-to-find items. Surely there are good deals out there but mostly they are too good to be true.
Text: Yap Jin Wen