Online holiday shopping has become as much a tradition as caroling and tree decorating. In fact, consumers spent about $53 billion online during the 2014 holiday season. With all the money being spent, hackers and fraudsters have seized the opportunity to fatten their own wallets during the holidays. We’ve seen some serious hacking cases in 2015, and cybercriminals have shown no signs of slowing down. That’s why it’s important to have an understanding of cyber safety while you shop online.
Tips for Safe Holiday Shopping
Eyes Peeled for “HTTPS”
When you look at the search bar on your web browser, you’ll see that the web address is preceded by either “http://” or “https://.” While your holiday shopping, you’ll want to make sure you see “https://” before you make a purchase. The “S” stands for “secure.” When the “S” is present, that means the information you submit is encrypted, or coded, so that only authorized parties can easily understand it.
Update Security Software
It’s important to keep your security and antivirus software up to date when shopping online. Hackers are constantly working to exploit cyber safety loopholes to compromise your computer’s data, so providers of antivirus software are always creating protective measures against them. If your antivirus program isn’t up to date, your computer may be left vulnerable to malicious attacks that are not detectable by outdated software.
Stay Away From Sketchy Links
If you receive an email, Facebook message, tweet or anything else that contains a suspicious-looking link, ignore it and delete it. One of the easiest ways by which a cybercriminal can compromise your data is by phishing with promising-sounding links. If a link looks too good to be true, or just downright suspicious, it probably is. It’s best to trust your intuition in these situations.
Safe Payments Only
Credit cards are generally the safest payment method when it comes to online holiday shopping. Credit cards are safer than debit cards, because they are not protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act. If you pay with a credit card and your information happens to be compromised, your liability will likely be reduced.
Verify Your Vendors
When doing holiday shopping online, it’s possible that you’ll come across websites you haven’t heard of before. Unfortunately, scam websites are common during the holiday season. If you have suspicions as to whether or not a website is legitimate, check with the Better Business Bureau to confirm.