Shopping online has been popular for many years now, but due to the global pandemic, even more people than ever discovered the benefits of eCommerce and became more comfortable with it.
Whether you’re a relatively new user of online stores or have been buying from home or your office for a long time, it’s vital to remember that with digital shopping, there are also some risks in addition to the many advantages.
Hackers are many and have varied techniques, so it’s vital to protect yourself and your data from cybercriminals anytime you browse or buy online. You can follow a few simple steps to stay safer each year.
Shop with Well-Regarded, Trusted Stores
Firstly, it’s vital to find well-regarded, trusted stores to shop with so you can feel more secure about providing your personal and financial details. Many popular websites have been around for years and are nicely established, but for those you haven’t heard of before, it pays to investigate social media sites, forums, shopping blog posts, and the like to see what sort of reviews and testimonials exist for the stores.
When shopping, check the URL at the top of the page to ensure you’re on a genuine website and not a fake replica version and, better yet, type in URLs directly rather than following links to get there. If you notice that the prices on an eCommerce shop seem much lower than what the brand would normally charge or that the types of products seem lesser quality, this is a red flag that the website is fraudulent. The same goes if the logo and language don’t seem spot on or if you’re asked for too many details in the checkout or before, such as your Social Security or driver’s license number.
Look for Secure Payment Options
Always check if you’re on a secure page before inputting your credit or debit card details or other sensitive information. To complete your transaction and checkout, you should be taken to a specific page on a website that is more secure than others or to a well-known payment provider page, such as PayPal.
Look for signs of security, such as the locked symbol in the URL bar or the extra ‘s’ added to the end of the HTTP at the start of the web address. Furthermore, avoid handing out any financial data over the phone if you ring a customer service line, as you don’t know who is taking your details or how secure they’ll be. An online payment system utilizing third-party merchant services will be less risky.
Use Security Software and Other Programs to Help Protect Yourself
Next, you can help cover yourself by installing quality security software on all the devices you shop from, such as your computer, tablet, and smartphone. A top-notch product will protect your privacy when browsing and buying online and offer comprehensive ID protection. It will also help stop spyware, spam, viruses, ransomware, and other malware from getting onto your devices and giving hackers an “in.” Most programs will let you know if you are about to open a dangerous website, and they’ll provide real-time threat alerts if you’re hacked, too.
In addition, you can boost security by utilizing the firewalls that are likely already pre-installed on your gadgets. These products are designed to help stop cybercriminals from accessing your networks via an internet connection.
Create Proper Passwords for All Your Online Accounts
Lastly, you will protect yourself and your data when shopping online if you create hard-to-crack passwords for all the accounts you access online, especially on sites where you order items or services and store credit or debit card details. It’s best to have different codes for different places, too, so that if one gets compromised by a hacker, they won’t be able to log into all your accounts. A password management tool can help you keep track of all these password details.
Decent codes should be at least eight or more characters and include symbols, numbers, and upper- and lower-case letters. Try to change them every so often, too. In addition, it’s wise to shop online only when you’re logged into secure, password-protected Wi-Fi rather than the public internet, as you never know who might be viewing your activity on open networks.
Shopping online is convenient, provides a lot more choice of goods and services, and is often more affordable. Plus, it can be enjoyable to spend time checking out new products or the latest deals on your favorite stores or new ones you find.
However, you increase your risk of being the victim of a hacker attack the more you provide your personal details to third-party sites, so following the tips above is crucial to help you stay safer.