How to shop online safely during this holiday season

With barely two weeks to Christmas day and numerous online platforms offering great deals, it is important to know the risks involved and how to keep safe. ESET software security expert Bruce Donovan says even though tips on online safety has been shared before, shopping can still be fun and safe if you follow a few sensible strategies:

  1. Beware of unknown stores

When you come across websites wth great travel or shopping deals, ask yourself if you trust their busoness. While some businesses are reputable, their website may be insecure with cases of ecommerece websites being affected with malware in the past year. Take your time looking around, checking privacy policies and vendor terms and conditions before buying with a store you do not know. If you do not like the look of the site you have visited, leave it, and shop elsewhere.

  1. Be careful on Facebook

Facebook is increasingly a place to trade goods and services, but this does not mean it is free from unscrupulous traders. The social media platform will often serve ads to unknown or suspicious websites, offer links to others with no or invalid digital certificates and more. In this case, avoid sharing your payment details directly via a message as you may not know access to the receiver’s Facebook account.

  1. Always shop on trusted networks, avoid open WI-FI

Avoid shopping online over a public and unsecure Wi-Fi network as this allows you to share all kinds of information over the unsecured network. Hackers attack unsuspecting users by stealing their credentials and more. If shopping at home, ensure your software security is up to date. But you could also improve your security posture by disabled adds-on and plug-ins before shopping, as this lowers risk of unauthorised access to shopping habits and payment details.

  1. Be smart about phones

Cybercriminals are increasingly targeting mobile devices hence you need to ensure your security is as good as on your laptop. Shop only using apps downloaded from authorised app stores. Remember to delete apps that you do not use and turn off wireless networks when shopping in a public location as the hackers could direct you to a spoofed Wi-Fi hotspot name in order to steal your credentials, and then your bank details.You might also want to turn off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to reduce the chance of a retail store tracking you so they can send you spam.

  1. Get the basics right

It sounds tedious, and is often-repeated, but before shopping online at any time, you really must make sure your IT security is up to scratch. This involves doing a lot of the basics, such as installing a security solution, and regularly updating software. You should also look to add passwords for your desktop lock screen and a PIN for your smartphone, while considering a password manager, two-factor authentication (2FA) and maybe even a VPN for more private browsing.


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