Online shopping is one of the conveniences provided by the internet. With a few clicks, one can compare numerous items and then purchase them instantly. However, the Internet creates several opening for attackers and puts financial and other personal information at risk.
Risks from Attackers:
Online shoppers are most commonly targeted in the following ways:
- Accessing a computer which is not well protected and then viewing the information stored on it.
- Phishing is another threat, where customers are made to believe that they are dealing with a reputed trader, when in fact they are sending information to an impersonator. Read SecurAid’s information on preventing phishing here.
- Attackers can create malicious websites or send emails (in the name of charity or other “good” intents) and may entice the customer to provide their financial information.
- Identity theft – This has been the most common in recent years. Hackers break into a online merchant’s web site and access to customer database which contains names, addresses and credit card numbers among other confidential data.
- Transactions between customer and the merchant becomes can be seen and the data can be stolen if there is no encryption on the connection.
Precautions that should be taken during online shopping are:
- Equip your computer with an updated browser, an anti-virus, and a firewall. Follow our Basic Security Measures procedure for setting this up.
- Before the purchase, make sure that you are dealing with a reputed and established vendor.
- Choose a secure password and enable other security features if available to increase the layers of protection. For tips on choosing a password, follow our simple tutorial here.
- Ensure that the connection is protected with SSL when entering credit card and other personal information. If the connection is encrypted, the address or URL of the website will start with “https”. For example, “https://google.com”
- Preferably use a credit card in place of a debit card. Debit cards do not have the same level of protection as credit cards.
- Keep records of all purchases. If there is any suspicious activity on your account, report it immediately.