Now that online shopping is a ubiquitous practice, online shoppers must follow basic but fail-safe computer security measures to protect their personal or business data.
After all, the average shopper doesn’t have an IT team to help them secure their data and recover after a cyberattack. When online shopping, prevention is the best policy. Otherwise, you could spend hours on the phone with the bank, trying to recover stolen funds or changing all your passwords.
Here are some computer security tips for online shopping that will help you minimize your risk:
Protect Your Passwords
Keeping all passwords secure and private is critical, whether they are passwords to accounts on online stores, social media platforms, or even password-protected apps. Since it is never advisable to use the same password across multiple accounts, consider creating a system for organizing different types of passwords together without giving yourself too much trouble trying to remember them all.
Some methods of organizing passwords are writing them down on paper, creating a list with each password corresponding to an app or email address, and storing this information somewhere secure. The best approach is having different passwords for different accounts, creating complex passwords that are difficult to guess or crack, and regularly updating your passwords.
Protect Your Bank Information
When making online purchases using your bank account, be extremely careful when entering your banking details. Make sure the website URL starts with https:// rather than just http:// before entering any sensitive banking information into the site. Although not all online stores will have this feature, it’s always better to be safe than sorry!
Not only should you only buy from trusted retailers who ensure adequate security measures are in place, but you should also frequently monitor your bank statements for any unauthorized activity.
Be Aware of Phishing Emails
Phishing emails are one of the most common ways cybercriminals gain access to personal information. These emails can appear to be from a retailer or financial institution that you regularly do business with and may include a request for updated personal information or a link to what seems to be a legitimate website.
However, when you click on the link, it takes you to a phishing website that looks very similar to a regular site but is actually created by the cybercriminal to steal your login credentials and other personal information.
To avoid becoming a victim of phishing, never click on links in unsolicited emails, even if they appear to come from your bank or a retailer. By hovering over the link with your mouse, you can see where it takes you and if it matches what is written in the email.
Update Your Software
Software updates are critical for computer security, as they often include patches and fixes for recently discovered vulnerabilities. Make sure to install all software updates as soon as they become available, whether they are for your browser or other applications on your computer.
Additionally, using a password manager can also help keep your software up-to-date. Many of these managers will automatically update the passwords for all the sites you have saved in the program.
Using a virtual private network (VPN) is another good computer security technique used when online shopping. VPNs encrypt all your incoming and outgoing traffic, which prevents cybercriminals from harvesting your browsing data as you make purchases or perform other activities online.
When using a public Wi-Fi network, such as those at cafes or airports, using a VPN is imperative to ensure the safety of your data. Whether you are organizing an online purchase payment or just checking email accounts to find shipping updates, always use a VPN to keep your data secure and hidden from third parties who might want to steal it for their own malicious purposes.
Taking simple steps to protect yourself from cybercriminals while online shopping, you can minimize the risk of your personal information being accessed or stolen. Implementing computer security tips from IT professionals will help keep you safe while shopping online and protect your valuable data.