Ins-And-Outs of Online Shopping Security

Nov. 29, 2017

Updated: Nov. 19, 2018

The holidays are finally upon us!

That means messy schedules, frantic retail workers, fantastic online sales, and hundreds of cyber criminals raring to take advantage of it all. 

In the midst of scrolling through shopping websites in search of the perfect gift for your mom and her dogs, you should think about the security of your personal online shopping accounts before making a purchase. We’ve compiled five crucial steps you can take to protect your accounts and devices against black hat hackers. Santa isn’t the only one trying to break in!

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#1: The Obvious

We are our own worst enemy when it comes to account security. Many users only have one password set across multiple online accounts, making it easy to access just about everything on those accounts. We’ve written an entire blog article to point out the top five worst practices in password creation, where simplicity and repetition are at the top of the list.

In addition to using multi-factor authentication, which is explained in that blog article, you should be making an effort to use unique passwords on each of your accounts. Using numbers, symbols, and a minimum length of 10 digits are great guidelines to keep in mind when creating passwords. Additionally, changing your passwords two or three times per year will also make it harder for hackers to get their hands on the right one.
 

#2: Encryption

Data encryption isn’t just for sensitive files; you can also encrypt your smartphone to protect your passwords, contacts, digital cash cards and payment applications. Password protection on a mobile device is similar to a door — even if they don’t have the right key to unlock it, a persistent cyber criminal will try to break it down instead. Encryption acts as the mesh screen behind the door, obscuring the crook’s view of your information and personal data. Check out this article to learn how to encrypt iPhones, iPads, and Android smartphones and tablets.

#3: Filter For Malware

“Malvertising” is a super quick way to infest massive amounts of devices with malware at a time, achieved by pumping virus-filled clickable ads and links onto legitimate webpages with heavy traffic. A good way to prevent yourself from accidentally clicking into malware content is to run a web filtering program. These programs are able to scan the page you’re trying to navigate to before you land on it, detecting malware content and warning you against opening the page before you even come into contact with it.

#4: Shop Secure

It goes without saying that putting cash card information online is risky at any level. Using a secure money transfer service like PayPal allows you to make purchases online without letting the website and seller know your card information, along with providing purchase protection in case there is a problem with your order. If a website or seller doesn’t accept a money transver service as a payment method, it’s safer to use a credit card rather than a debit card, as they allow for a few days of buffer between placing your order and sending your payment, giving you ample time to monitor for any unusual charges.

Many credit card companies have mobile apps that can send push notifications when a purchase is made using your card, making easy to monitor for suspicious activity. It is strongly advised that you do not use your credit or debit card to directly purchase from an unsecured online shopping website, as this makes it extremely easy for cyber criminals to record your payment information. Try to only make online purchases from secure websites, beginning with the prefix https://

#3: Assist Your Antivirus

Odds are, you have at least one antivirus software installed on your computer. Whether you know it or not, your computer also likely came with a defragmentation application as well. Defragmenting your personal computer (as well as your professional devices) will not only give your device’s speed a substantial boost, but it can also increase the speed of your antivirus program, neatly organizing your storage data and allowing the antivirus software to scan over them more efficiently.

In addition to defragmenting, it’s also a good idea to use a PC cleaning program like CCleaner beforehand to remove junk files, browser history, and potentially harmful add-ons to speed up the defragmentation process.

Domain Computer Services wants you to have a safe and happy holiday season, free from worries about website legitimacy and account security. If you do happen to run into trouble, don’t hesitate to give us a call!
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