Avoiding the shopping blues: How to shop online safely this holiday season

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Avoiding the shopping blues: How to shop online safely this holiday season

With the Christmas shopping bonanza just around the corner, here’s how to make sure your online spending round is hacker-free

Black Friday is almost upon us and Cyber ​​Monday is just around the corner, which means most of us will be on the hunt for the perfect deal. Which, to be honest, is likely to find in abundance, with most online and physical stores trying to either relieve inventory or increase competitors by offering the best deal yet. That said, keep in mind that the pandemic has not blown over yet, so shopping with your smartphone, tablet, or other connected devices is probably safer than pushing and pushing each other in stores.

But online shopping involves its own risks. And while it does protect you from getting infected with the nasty coronavirus, you could end up compromising your device with malware – if you do not stick with it. This can open up a whole other can of worms, such as getting your data locked down by ransomware, or cybercriminals sucking your sensitive data off to commit identity fraud, or selling them on dark web marketplaces.

Fortunately, you can reduce the chances of this happening by approaching you online shopping with a healthy dose of vigilance, strengthening your device’s security, and applying proper cyber security habits.

Connect securely

Since you want to shop online, the best place to start is to get your internet connection right. You will probably be tempted to do your shopping in your downtime, and that sometimes involves a cup of coffee or outside; however, public Wi-Fi hotspots are not exactly secure. So performing any kind of operation that includes sensitive data, such as your payment information, is a big no-no. Your device may be infected by malware, or your sensitive data may be stolen. It is better to limit your online purchases to secure and well-known internet connections, so the best bet is either to use your phone’s data plan or by connecting to your home Wi-Fi network.

Your home network security should also not be underestimated. If you have not touched on the security settings of your router since its out-of-the-box installation, now would be the right time to configure it properly. But people are busy creatures and have errands to run during the day so they can sneak a little online shopping here and there. So if you still want to do that on a public hotspot, you need a virtual private network (VPN) so you can screen your traffic and make your purchases securely.

Protect your device

Since you might be doing a lot of your shopping from your smartphone, just for the sake of convenience, it should be an easy matter to secure yourself. However, a significant number of people still consider their smartphone to be just a phone rather than a pocket-sized computer that they lug around every day in their pocket and use to perform all sorts of tasks. That said, they underestimate how much personal data is stored on these devices, ranging from photos and personal information all the way to payment cards located in their electronic wallets that they use to pay for their purchases.

Therefore, these devices must also be protected. This is where a reputable security solution comes into play – these are well-equipped to protect your device from being infected by all sorts of malware as well as go a long way towards protecting you from malicious activities carried out by threatening actors, such as phishing attempts or submitting your malicious links. You should also consider securing your device by adding lock screens that are a combination of both biometric locks and access phrases.

Protect your payments

You should also think about protecting your chosen payment methods. If you are wondering where such a feature can be found, it can be traced back to using a reputable security solution on your device. Fully equipped solutions usually offer a payment protection feature that adds an extra layer of protection to your banking and payment applications. This protects you from any enterprising scammers who would try to intercept your payment information either in the form of phishing campaigns or other threats.

The payment protection feature will protect your banking and payment apps by protecting them from malicious applications that may have infected your device and preventing them from replacing information or reading information on the screen from your protected applications. Additionally, you should be able to add applications that you think should be protected by this extra layer of security. Another additional security feature that should be used every time a payment is involved is multifactor authentication, preferably using an authentication app or security token.

Avoid scams

The shopping season is usually ripe with great deals of all kinds, especially during Black Friday and Cyber ​​Monday, where shoppers will be looking for the perfect price drop. It is also the preferred time of year for scammers who will bet that consumers let go of their guard and are at their most gullible as some stores may offer really ridiculous sales. But one thing that resists the ravages of time is the often-repeated rule that if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

So if you might come across ads that rub you the wrong way or get flooded with pop-up banners with 90% discounts on luxury brands, you should probably avoid them. If you click on them, you may be redirected to a phishing or fake website that will try to collect your sensitive information, including your payment data, or cause you to download malware to your device; no matter what, the only one who gets a good buy will be the scammer. To avoid falling victim to such scams, your best option is to stick to legitimate marketplaces and authorized platforms that you can trust.

Closing words

In conclusion, while on the hunt for the best deal, you should never let go of your guard and be on guard at all times. Watch out for signs of fraud, such as misspelled ads and questionable marketplaces that may look like the real thing at first glance, but are fake once you’re researching them a little more – prices may be lower, or the URL may look wrong.

And do not forget to apply other basic cyber hygiene practices, such as keeping your device and operating systems up to date with the latest security fixes, having your devices protected using built-in security features and security software, and do not forget strong passwords and enable two-factor authentication. All of this can make the party season even safer and more fun and protect you from a possible scam-induced headache.

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