It’s officially November, which means Thanksgiving break, awkward silences at family dinner, football playing in the background while everyone’s passed out in the living room from overeating, and the crazy sales of Black Friday. But why wake up at the crack of dawn to physically fight with throes of bargain shoppers when you could just sit on your couch and take advantage of cyber Monday?
But despite the convenience and comfort that online shopping provides, we do have to be aware about the fact that cybercrime is becoming more sophisticated with each passing day. With hackers knowing that millions of people will be entering their credit card information on different websites on cyber Monday, how safe are you when making your purchases?
Update your software:
If you don’t update your software, you’re letting your computer, phone, or tablet, become vulnerable to attacks. It only takes a few minutes, so stop putting it off because the notification pops up on your screen while you’re in the middle of something.
Do not use shared WiFi:
Yes, Starbucks is cozy, especially when they play holiday music and serve you a hot drink in a red cup. But this ambiance is better left enjoyed when having in person interactions with friends, or when reading a book. Unsecure WiFi, such as what’s available at libraries and fast food places, can be easily intercepted by third parties.
Who are you purchasing from?
Yes, giants such as Yahoo and Equifax have been hacked in the past. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t pay attention to whom you’re giving your credit card information to. Look at the website’s URL. A secure site will start with https. Pay attention to that “s” at the end. And even if you love an item that shows up your social media feed and you think it would make a perfect Christmas gift, if it’s from a random retailer you’ve never heard of before, you’re better off going to Amazon to try to find a similar item.
Pay attention to URLs:
This is one of the oldest tricks in the books: Creating a website with a name that’s so similar to a legitimate website, it’s almost identical. So triple check that you entered the right URL into your browser (or be safe and click on stuff that’s already saved in your bookmarked pages). In fact, pay attention you’re in the right website, even if the name of the retailer is spelled correctly. One single letter, or ending in .net instead of .com will make a big difference between a legitimate website and a hacker’s phishing scam.
Review your bank statement regularly:
I know, I know. Who has time for that, right? That’s exactly why it’s even easier for cyber thieves to purchase things in other people’s names. So set aside a few minutes to protect yourself by doing this simple exercise.
Above all else, use common sense. At this point in the game, you shouldn’t be opening unsolicited emails; much less click on links inside. The holidays are a beautiful part of the year. Don’t rain on your own parade by cutting corners.