Somebody gets hacked online every 34 seconds. No, we’re not kidding. There’s nothing wrong with shopping online, of course, but you need to know the risks so you can prevent them. In this article, we give you nine ways to ensure that your holiday shopping spree will get you nothing worse than buyer’s remorse.
1. Use a VPN
You should never be shopping through a public WiFi connection. They’re usually not encrypted, and they’re a hacker’s wet dream. But if you must, then use a VPN. That way all your sensitive information will be encrypted, even through an unencrypted connection. Also, make sure it’s a reputable VPN service that charges for membership.
Why not a free one, I hear you ask? Because free VPN services have been proven to be data mills that collect your data and sell it. Spend a little on a VPN. Security is always worth it.
2. Pay attention to URLs
Secure websites are also encrypted. How do you know if they are? Because the URL doesn’t begin with HTTP:// but with https://. That little “s” after “HTTP” makes all the difference. Also, do your shopping in legit sites that you know and trust because hackers can make a fake site look real.
3. Never click on short URLs
Short URLs are practical; they do serve a purpose. They give us cleaner, easier to manage links. The problem is that hackers know how to use them too.
The other problem is that you can never tell where an URL will take you until you’re already there. So just don’t click on them. Yes, they’re tempting, but if you have some experience in online shopping, you already know all the sites you like.
4. Monitor your credit and debit card activity
Keep a close eye on your card’s activity. If your bank offers an app in which you can check your movements at any time of the day, don’t hesitate to install it and use it.
The smartest thieves won’t go out and buy a Mercedes on your credit. They’ll start small, and then, if they don’t get caught, they will increase their activity. So pay attention. Even if it’s a Snickers bar that you know you didn’t buy, you should clarify the situation at once.
5. Check your passwords
Remember: passwords must have at least a capital letter, at least a single number, and at least a sign of some kind. And they must never be words that you can find in a dictionary.
You should have a different password for every site, and you should never write them down. Get a password manager if you must (Chrome does that automatically for you),
This is how hackers get you to install their malware in your computer for them. Especially if you’re using Windows. Once you click on that link, they’re in, and they can do pretty much anything they want, like finding out your passwords. Just don’t click on links in emails unless you’re sure they come from people you know and trust.
7. Consider a virtual credit card
Some services will provide you with a virtual credit card for online payments. Neteller, for instance, will generate a credit card number that you can only use once and online. It’s a bit of a hassle but that way you make sure that your real credit card number stays safe and offline.
8. Update your browser
So you haven’t updated your browser all year long? Well, if you’re going to be shopping online in December, then this is the time to update it finally. The latest updates include fixes for security issues. Take the time.
9. Be discreet
Every time you open an account of any kind, fill up only the obligatory information on the form. Anything that’s optional is information that the site doesn’t really need and that you really shouldn’t give away.
These tips, simple as they are, can save you a lot of headaches, problems and, yes, money.
Image courtesy of Pixabay.