Keeping yourself safe when shopping online

Do you feel like you're rolling the dice when punching in your credit card number? 

Free wifi? 

When using a public network there’s a chance someone is watching. Most Wi-Fi hotspots don't encrypt (tech word for concealing your activity by converting it into a code to the intended recipient) your data. This means anyone using the same network, including hackers, can easily grab your information out of thin air if motivated to do so – and yes, this applies to mobile phones. So, beware when using a hotspot or public Wi-Fi that any information you send through the Internet could be picked up by malicious people.

Can’t wait to get home to your secure network? There’s a balancing act when rolling this dice – including the integrity of who owns the network and their security breach plan, the data you’re accessing, the security of your own devices and if you’re using a virtual private network (VPN) connection.

Our advice? Wait until you get home to a secure network.

Don’t ignore browser warnings

When surfing the web, your web browser may throw up warnings – because you’re entering personal information on websites that aren’t secure, or the websites haven’t been configured correctly, or they’re outright dodgy. Because we’re in a hurry to get things done and we think we can trust the website we sometimes ignore these warnings, but we shouldn’t – these warnings are there for a reason.

Keep your web browser and operating system up to date

When new security threats present themselves, developers rush to find a patch and this comes to consumers as ‘a new version’. It’s vital that when a new version of your operating system or web browser becomes available, you download it immediately – better yet, automate this process so you can sleep easy at night.

Read the privacy policy

Unfortunately, not all businesses are as protective over your personal data as they should be. You can protect yourself by reading their privacy policy and terms and conditions before ticking the box. It’s important that they do not sell or share your information with any third party.

Never, ever give anyone your credit card over email. Ever.

Even if the shopkeeper insists they’ll keep it safe. They might – but who knows how accessible their (or your) email account is…

Share the bare minimum

No online shopping store needs your birthday to do business. If a shop has that sort of information on hand, and criminals hack them, combined with your stored credit card number, a lot of damage can be done. The more they know, the easier it is to steal your identity.

Check your credit card statement regularly

Internet banking makes it easy to check your transactions regularly – check in regularly during times of high expenditure (e.g. the holiday season!) to ensure there aren’t any rogue transactions – don’t wait until the end of the month.
If you do see something out of order, pick up the phone to address the matter quickly. And no, the last round of drinks at the staff Christmas party doesn’t count.

 

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