The holiday season is right around the corner and if you're like 91% of Americans, you'd be doing some holiday shopping online.
However, this is also the time when hackers go "shopping" for consumers' personal data. For example, 91% of eCommerce sites’ global login traffic came from attacks called "credential stuffing" during 2018's holiday season.
To protect your personal identity and sensitive information from prying eyes, you should understand the latest cybersecurity threats and what you can do to do safe online shopping this holiday season.
Key Consumer Cybersecurity Threats in 2019
Here are some tactics frequently used by hackers to steal online shoppers' data:
Phishing and spear-phishing: hackers trick victims into sharing sensitive information, such as passwords or credit card numbers (e.g., over email or a spoof webpage.) While phishing attacks are broad-stroke attempts, spear-phishing attacks often contain information specific to the victim.
Malware: spyware and viruses infect consumers' computers when they open an email attachment or click on a malicious link/pop-up. Once infected, hackers can use the malware to steal credit card information, hijack a computer, and more.
Ransomware: a specific kind of malware attack during which hackers encrypt the information on victims' computers and demand a ransom to be paid to unlock the data.
Data theft: hackers convince victims to voluntarily give up their data or purchase login credentials from dark web marketplaces. They'd then use the information to make fraudulent purchases.
Tips for Safe Online Shopping
- Purchase from reputable eCommerce websites.
- Quit suspicious online transaction
- Don't use public, unsecured WiFi.
- Monitor your credit card statements and credit scores regularly.
- Be careful when shopping on mobile devices.
- Be cautious when clicking through shortened URLs.
- Don't click on links in suspicious emails or ads.
- Keep your operating system and software applications up to date.
Purchase from reputable eCommerce websites.
Look for "https" in the URL and trust badges on the checkout pages to ensure that your information is encrypted. You should also check that the merchant is PCI compliant before submitting payment information.
Quit suspicious online transaction
If a website asks for more personal information than necessary to complete a transaction or is filled with pop-ups and ads, quit the transaction and close your browser.
Don't use public, unsecured WiFi to make online purchases.
Most WiFi hotspots don't encrypt the data, so it can be picked up easily by hackers with the right software. Wait till you have access to a secured network before placing your orders.
Monitor your credit card statements and credit scores regularly.
This will help nib fraudulent charges in the bud and prevent hackers from using your personal information to open credit lines.
Be careful when shopping on mobile devices.
Most phones aren't equipped with anti-virus software and that why it is important to be careful when using it on shopping. Also, make sure any personal information you store on your phone is password-protected in case the device gets stolen.
Be cautious when clicking through shortened URLs
Such URLs are designed to be mobile-friendly. This is where it can be dangerous because you can't tell where they are pointing to.
Don't click on links in suspicious emails or ads.
If you don't fully trust the source, check the URL domain of the site you are visiting. You can do so by typing the URL into the browser to make sure that you're going to a reputable website. or moving your mouse over the link and check the URL that is being shown before clicking on the link to prevent phishing attack.
Keep your operating system and software applications up to date.
This will help ensure that you have the latest security patches required to protect your computer from the most recent viruses and malware.
The Best Way to Protect Your Computer from Cybercriminals when Holiday Shopping
While there are many precautions you can take to protect your information from hackers, those measures aren't completely "airtight" since human errors often give cybercriminals the opportunity to steal your data.
To protect your sensitive information and personal data, you should have a trusted anti-virus software application installed on your computer.
However, can you fully rely on a single anti-virus software? What if a malware "sneaks in" between software updates?
Every Windows PC comes with Windows Defender and you can also install other anti-virus software. They're all effective in detecting known malware. But you're still vulnerable to unknown malware that remains undetectable by an antivirus application until the next routine update -- at which point, it could be too late.
That's why you need an always-on second opinion scanner that can identify malicious patterns on its own without relying on definition updates. Especially during this time of the year, thousands of malware are released daily and you need protection against immediate threats to ensure that you do safe online shopping.
Holiday season is just around the corner!
Are you ready to go on a shopping spree?
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