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Cybersecurity Awareness: 8 Cybersecurity Tips For Online Shopping

2021-03-25 by Stella Evans

More and more people are now becoming familiar with online shopping, and are more at home with performing online transactions.

 

While certainly, online shopping makes purchasing and also selling various things a lot easier, every single online transaction can also translate into leaving yourself at risk if you are not careful. Various malicious bots are targeting eCommerce and online retail marketplaces, and when these online stores are compromised, there’s also a chance your personally identifiable information (PII) and even your banking details are also compromised.

 

With that being said, here are the 8 most important cybersecurity awareness tips for your online shopping activities to help you protect your sensitive information from the hands of hackers and cybercriminals.

 

Let us begin with the first one.

1.  Update Everything Regularly

Software updates are there for a reason.

 

It’s important to understand that all software and programs can have vulnerabilities, and responsible software manufacturers will regularly release security updates to ‘patch’ these vulnerabilities while also publishing these vulnerabilities to various security databases.

 

Thus, if you forgot to update your OS, apps, or software, hackers may recognize these vulnerabilities, for example after you access an online marketplace that has also been infected by malware.

 

You wouldn’t want to have your data compromised just because you forgot to update your OS or one of your apps. So, turn on automatic updates whenever possible, and if not, make sure to update all software as soon as these updates are made available.

2. Only Shop On Secure Sites and Platforms

This one is fairly obvious but often neglected by many online shoppers, especially when there are attractive discounts and other interesting offers from less well-known sites.

 

Be very careful before entering any personal or financial information. In general, you should only deal with well-known sites that you know are secure. At the very least, however, check the legitimacy of the site by looking for common signs of scam websites before entering any sensitive information.

 

A very important factor is to ensure that the eCommerce website is using HTTPS instead of regular HTTP. HTTPS ensures that the site is properly encrypted and your data is secure.

 

3. Use Strong And Unique Password

This one is also pretty obvious, but so many people overestimate their password’s strength and use the same password for all their accounts. On the other hand, malicious bots can perform brute force and credential stuffing to exploit your weak and/or non-unique password.

 

Make sure you are using complex enough passwords, and if necessary you can use various password manager tools (even Google’s free one) to generate complex passwords and ‘remember’ them every time you need them.

4.  Avoid Debit Card Payment Whenever Possible

It’s actually better to use credit cards or even better, services like PayPal or Stripe when shopping online. Why?

 

Simply put, your debit card is linked to your bank account, and when your debit card information is compromised, your banking details might also be compromised and hackers can potentially gain access to your account.

 

On the other hand, if your credit card details are stolen, you are more protected and in most cases, you can dispute a credit card transaction done by hackers.

5.  Be Careful When Installing Apps

Be extra careful when downloading and installing apps on your phone or mobile devices (both Android and iOS), especially when the app asks for permission that won’t help the shop’s core functionality.

 

If it’s an eCommerce app and, for example, it asks for permission to access your contact, then it’s obviously a malicious app and you shouldn’t allow the app to access it. Check the online reviews (on Play Store and App Store) before installing any app, and don’t install apps that aren’t available on Play Store or App Store.

6.  Use Antivirus

Make sure to protect your device (both computers and mobile devices) with proper antivirus/anti-malware solutions to protect your data from malware-based data breaches.

 

Malware remains one of the biggest causes of data leaks and other types of cybersecurity attacks, so you should make sure your devices are well-protected at all costs.

 

It’s best to invest in AI-powered antivirus solutions that can perform behavioral-based detection, so they don’t rely on risk databases and can properly defend your devices from zero-day attacks.

7.   Only Share Required Information

Most eCommerce websites and apps will ask you for information before you can complete a purchase. The general rule of thumb is to give as little information as possible, and only give them the information they absolutely require to confirm your transaction. If, for example, they don’t allow you to provide a complete address or phone number, then you should skip them.

 

The more information you provide, the more you expose yourself when this website is malicious and/or is currently hacked by malicious attackers. Also, make a habit of reading any online shop’s privacy policy before committing your information.

8.  Don’t Click on Links and Download Attachments Carelessly

Be very careful against phishing attacks, and generally, you shouldn’t open emails from someone you don’t know. A common phishing practice is to send an email with an attractive offer in the subject line, so don’t open emails from a site you haven’t visited. Also, never click on links or download any attachments if you aren’t sure about the sender.

 

If the sender’s address looks legitimate (using a spoofed email address) and asks for your action (i.e. asking for your financial information), then it’s best to call the official number of the company directly (Google it) and confirm the request.

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