Cyber Monday and Black Friday sales predictions already litter online sites. If you’re hunting for a great holiday deal, you’ll find them on 4KTVs, headphones, game systems, laptops, fashion and more. During the holiday shopping season, you’ll be online much more often — visiting sites, researching gifts and making purchases. Make sure you don’t neglect your security measures; increased online traffic means increased risk of cyber threats. Remember these important tips and shop safely.
- Protect yourself with VPN. Encrypt your data such as your address, name and credit card information by shopping through a private, encrypted VPN connection. This is even more important if you’re shopping using public WiFi. Online shopping continues to grow each year, as do businesses offering free WiFi onsite. While you’re out walking through brick-and-mortar stores, you’ll likely check sales and prices on your phone as well. Do so through VPN, protecting yourself from the risks of an open network.
- Only make purchases on a site secured with HTTPS. Never enter your credit card information for a purchase without checking to make sure it’s a secured site. Today’s cyber criminals attempt to exploit any unprotected resource they can hunt down online. HTTPS keeps these intruders from messing with communications between your browser and the business site. You don’t want to hand off your credit card to a stranger.
- Never click on links you don’t trust. Unfortunately, people continue to fall victim to social engineering attacks. According to Verizon’s 2018 Data Breach Investigation Report, 96 percent of malware attacks come through email. If you don’t trust the message, don’t click on the link. Be vigilant. If you receive an email with a holiday shopping deal that seems too good to be true, be extra careful about what you do with it! Phishing attacks are even coming through texts on your mobile phone. Don’t fall for it.
- Understand the increased instances of identity theft. During last year’s holiday shopping season, fraudulent activity such as identity theft was expected to increase by 30 percent, according to ACI Worldwide. The holidays are busy times, and we can easily become distracted, setting ourselves up as targets. Be aware of the sites you visit, making sure it all looks correct, especially the URL. Visit retailer’s sites directly instead of through links from other sites or emails. And remember to use that VPN! Criminals could access your information if you take a holiday shopping break to sit down, sip some coffee and check your bank statements on the public WiFi. Make sure and encrypt your data first. You may also want to include these additional strategies from our previous post on how to mitigate identity theft.
Protect yourself as you shop, both online and at brick-and-mortar stores. Enjoy your holiday season with some peace of mind knowing you’re taking good care of your privacy.