It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Cookies are baking, snow is falling, and there’s a hint of magic in the air. There’s also a mad frenzy to try to get the perfect presents for everyone on your list from Great Aunt Martha to Sam the Postman. With most holiday shopping taking place online this year, it’s important to remember these 4 tips to stay safe while adding to your cart.
- Secure your devices.
- Protect your accounts.
- Opt for “s”.
- Click with care.
Holiday Shopping Made Safe with These 4 Tips
Secure your devices.
Whether you’re using a computer, tablet, or smartphone to shop, protect it. Cyber grinches will be on the lookout for security vulnerabilities to take advantage of so keep your devices, browsers, and apps up to date. Install antivirus software. This may be easier to do this year with many of us staying at home more than usual but avoid using public WiFi networks for making purchases. Try to limit your public WiFi activity strictly to window shopping. if you absolutely must use a public network to make purchases, use a VPN. A virtual private network, or VPN, helps protect you against invasions of privacy and possible identity theft by encrypting all your online traffic.
Protect your accounts.
We know it’s tempting to use the same, easy to remember password across all your online shopping and banking accounts but doing so will undoubtedly land you on the naughty list! Once a hacker cracks one password, they’ve got access to everything. Make your passwords long, random, and different for every account you have. If multi-factor authentication is an option, use it (such as a random code texted to you when you try to login to your favorite store’s site). You can view our password tips and tricks here.
Opt for “s”.
If you look up to the top of your browser where our website URL is, you’ll notice there’s a padlock. A padlock means that a site’s URL begins with “https://” instead of just “http://”. This signifies that a site is protected by Secure Socket Layer, or SSL encryption. While SSL encryption is not a guarantee that a website is safe enough to enter your payment information into, it can be a good start when trying to determine site legitimacy. If deals seem too good to be true or you’re being bombarded by popups, however, sled on over to a different, more reputable site. In addition, many browsers have built-in security that may notify if you a site isn’t using SSL or seems unsafe.
Click with care.
Phishing is common year-round, however, hackers are nothing if not opportunistic so phishing attempts often spike during the holidays when everyone is scouring their emails for the best last minute deals. It’s easy to accidentally click on an email link when you shouldn’t. Remember to always check links before you click them (for example, make sure the link is actually sending you to target.com not targ3t.com) and verify sender email addresses. If you get an email about a once in a lifetime deal, it only takes an extra second to directly browse to that company’s website instead of clicking the email links.