The holiday shopping season has begun, and many people will be doing online shopping from their work devices. This can be a fun time in anticipation of the upcoming holidays, but it can also mean more cybersecurity risk if you don’t take precautions.
Safe online shopping is something that should be of interest both to individuals and businesses because a lot of that shopping is done from company networks. An accidental click on a phishing site could lead to a network meltdown.
69% of surveyed individuals admit to shopping online at work. When you look at the millennial group specifically, that number jumps to 81%.
No one wants their holiday marred by identity theft or a ransomware infection. So, it’s best to follow best practices when shopping online this holiday season, and any time of year.
Here are several tips you can use and share with your team to help keep online shopping secure.
1. Only Shop Sites You Know
It’s tempting to go after a deal that showed up in your Facebook feed, especially when it seems so perfect. The targeting algorithm on social media sites is finely tuned, so often, you’ll see products matching things you’ve liked or followed on social sites.
But shopping unknown retailers can lead to your credit card being stolen or you falling for a phishing site that looks legitimate.
It’s best to stick with online retailers that you know to be legitimate or have successfully used in the past.
2. Delete Your Payment Details After You Check Out
Sites like Amazon love to keep your payment card on file, claiming it’s to your benefit to make it easier to check out. But anytime your personal information is stored in a retailer’s database, there is a risk of it being breached and compromised.
It’s best to immediately delete your credit card from your user profile after you’ve completed your purchase. Once you receive your purchase receipt, it’s safe to remove it and it won’t impact the order that you just placed.
3. Visit Sites Directly, Not Through an Email Link
There are a seemingly endless number of phishing scams out there and they ramp up during the holiday season. You may see sale ads from sites you recognize, but that is actually fake.
It’s also popular this time of year for scammers to send false shipping notices to get users to click a link to check tracking on something they may have purchased.
It’s best to visit websites directly, not through an email link. If you receive some special coupon code via email, then if it’s legitimate, going to the retailer’s site directly should still allow you to use it.
4. Use PayPal or a Wallet App When Possible
You can reduce the number of websites that have access to your credit or debit card number by using PayPal or a wallet app like Apple Pay to check out online whenever you can.
These services do not give your payment card details directly to the retailer, which reduces your risk. They will also often have buyer protection policies that help protect you from scam websites that never ship your order or that send inferior items.
5. Don’t Shops Sites That Don’t Use HTTPS
HTTPS at the beginning of a website address (instead of just HTTP) indicates that there is a security certificate on the site to encrypt transactions. These security certificates are generally required to use legitimate shopping cart software. However, there are still scammers out there that can get around this.
Never shop a website that does not use HTTPS in the address bar, as you’ll be risking exposing your credit card details.
6. Do Not Shop Online When On a Public Wi-Fi
While it may be tempting to make a quick online purchase while you’re having a coffee at Starbucks, you should not shop online when on public Wi-Fi. When on a shared public network, you can have your traffic intercepted by a hacker using a “man in the middle” attack.
If you must shop from your phone while out, turn off the Wi-Fi to ensure you’re on your mobile carrier’s connection.
7. Check Your Payment Card Account Often
When doing a lot of online shopping for the holidays, it’s especially important to check your credit or debit card account regularly through online banking or your bank account app.
This helps you catch a fraudulent charge right away so you can dispute it immediately. You may also find mistakes made by retailers who are busiest this time of year and can make errors when processing order payments.
Get Help Securing Your Network Against Malicious Sites & Emails
There are some simple safeguards that Rocky Knoll Technologies can put in place for your Charlotte area business to reduce the risk of a phishing email causing problems for your IT security.
Schedule a consultation by calling 704.594.7292 or reach us online.