11 Essential Cybersecurity Tips to Ensure Safe and Scam-Free Online Purchases!
November 2023 by Rrezart, Founder and Cybersecurity Specialist at Defend Identity
Rrezart, Founder and Cybersecurity Specialist at the antivirus platform Defend Identity, warns about the risks of holiday scams. He stresses being vigilant when shopping online.
"Staying vigilant isn’t just good practice - it’s your first line of defense in this digital age. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to be on guard during prime phishing times like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Protect yourself by using dedicated shopping emails, direct URL entry, virtual cards, SSL encryption - whatever you can do to safeguard your data from the dramatic rise in breaches, spam calls, and phishing attacks we’re seeing.
Victims of cybercrime now average 97 per hour. Do the math, and that’s one unlucky person every 37 seconds! With the increasing cost and frequency of cybercrimes, we all need to proceed with caution in this wild digital frontier. Give thought to each click, as the threats are always out there, evolving. We’re all vulnerable, but vigilance is our first defense. It’s not just a practice - it’s our armor in the digital battlefield."
1. Verify SSL Encryption on Websites for Secure Transactions
When buying things online, you’ve gotta make sure the site is secure. Look for "HTTPS" in the web address, not just "HTTP." The extra "S" means it’s using SSL encryption to keep your info safe as it travels between you and their servers. This kind of encryption is crucial for protecting personal details and payment info when you shop online.
You can also watch for a little padlock icon in the address bar - that tells you the site is secure.
SSL encryption uses complicated cryptographic stuff to keep communications secure on the Internet. So it’s a key part of staying safe when you shop online,
2. Avoid Email Spams and Don’t Answer Spam Calls or Texts
Scams explode during busy shopping times. Don’t answer sketchy calls or texts, especially if they seem too good to be true. These could be next-level phishing scams designed to get your personal info or plant malware on your phone.
A common trick they use is "spoofing" - manipulating the sender’s number or address to look legit. They might use VoIP services to fake caller IDs, making it look like the call’s from a real store or bank. That way you’re more likely to give them your financial details without realizing it’s a scam. Other times they’ll spoof email headers so the message seems to be from someone trustworthy.
To avoid falling for these, don’t click links or download attachments from sketchy sources. If a call seems fishy, type the number into a search engine first - you can see if it’s a known scammer and read about others’ experiences. Gotta keep your guard up during the busy shopping season when these crooks come out in full force.
3. Direct URL Entry
Want to avoid phishing scams? Don’t click on links in emails or messages. Just open your browser and type the store’s address directly. That way you know you’re visiting the real site, not some fake one made to look legit.
Those sketchy links go to scammy sites designed to steal your personal and payment info.
Good rule of thumb: real businesses rarely ask for sensitive stuff by email. It’s safer to manually enter the website address yourself. Links can take you somewhere dangerous. Companies don’t need your personal details by email.
4. Dedicated Shopping Email & Virtual Card
Think about getting a separate email for online shopping - it can really help avoid phishing and keep all those promo emails under control. With a dedicated shopping address, it’s easier to track confirmations and shipping notices without clogging up your main inbox. Plus it enhances security to keep your buying emails separate. This little trick declutters and protects your primary email.
Another good option is using virtual cards to pay online. These are digital versions of your real credit or debit card that add extra security. You can set spending limits on virtual cards and lock or delete them after buying something. Super handy for reducing fraud risks.
5. Use Secure Payment Methods
Credit cards are usually the most secure way to pay for stuff online. They have fraud protections built in, unlike things like wire transfers or mailing checks which are less safe. For extra security, think about using online payment services - PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay. These hide your credit card details from retailers and give you an extra layer of protection. Many also let you dispute charges, so they provide a nice safety net when you shop online.
6. Avoid Public Wi-Fi for Transactions
Steer clear of public WiFi for online shopping - it’s less secure and hackers can intercept your data more easily. If you gotta shop online out in public, use a VPN. A virtual private network encrypts your connection, keeping your personal info and financial details confidential during the transaction.
Bottom line is public WiFi is risky for buying stuff online. A VPN helps secure your data from potential interception by shady cybercrooks lurking on those networks.
7. Research for Reviews Before Buying
It’s wise to thoroughly research an online merchant before making any purchases, especially if the company is unfamiliar. Investigate the seller’s physical location, contact details, and customer feedback on independent review platforms such as Yelp, TrustPilot, and Google.
This due diligence helps verify the business’ legitimacy and track record of reliable service and product quality. Understanding a seller’s reputation can greatly reduce the risks of scams, dissatisfaction, and other pitfalls. Conducting comprehensive research empowers shoppers to make informed decisions, increasing the likelihood of a smooth transaction and positive shopping experience when purchasing from an unknown website.
A prudent buyer gathers ample evidence beforehand rather than jumping blindly into a purchase. With some careful sleuthing, consumers can gain peace of mind and confidence that an unfamiliar seller is trustworthy.