5 Tips for More Security with Online Shopping

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Dec 3, 2020

This holiday season is going to look a little different than holidays in the past. One of the biggest differences is that many people will opt to shop online rather than in the stores. With the pandemic, it’s a lot safer to do all of your holiday shopping online. 

With online shopping, however, you have to be worried about cybersecurity. For example, in the first half of 2019 alone, data breaches exposed 4.1 billion records. So how can you enjoy online shopping this holiday season and still stay safe? Here are five tips:

1. Stick to secure sites

Of course, you can rely on well-known online stores like Amazon and Walmart.com to be secure. A lot of people want to support small businesses, however. This is an admirable thing to do, but make sure the merchant you are supporting has a secure site. If you don’t see the “s” in the URL behind “http,” in the address bar, the site is not encrypted, and your data will not be secure.

2. Use stronger passwords

When was the last time you changed your Amazon password? Are you using login credentials you use on other sites or a password that would be easy to guess? This is a great time to change your passwords as cyber criminals will be out in full force this holiday season. Try using the Internet browser-suggested passwords to create a complex password to be extra secure and protect your personal info. 

3. Update your software

One of the best security measures you can take to protect yourself from cyber threats is to keep the software on your device up to date. You may be tempted to skip this step because it can be time-consuming, but you can set it up to update overnight while you are sleeping. This is a good way to make sure you get your updates in. These software updates are usually released to help you to improve your online security so make sure you update when you can.

4. Don’t use public Wi-Fi

This is not as much of an online shopping security concern this year due to the pandemic, but it’s good to be aware of. Hackers love public Wi-Fi networks because they aren’t secured, so aim to do any online activity involving your credit card information on a private network. Definitely don’t log in to online banking sites or sites like PayPal on public networks. Also, make sure your phone and computer are logged out of these sites before you get on a public network.

5. Only download shopping apps from reliable sources

Shopping apps can be fun and convenient, but they can also be easy places for a cyber thief to steal your personal and financial information. Make sure you are only downloading apps from reliable sources like the Apple or Google Play stores. When you are downloading a new app, pay attention to the permissions the app is asking you for on your phone, and don’t give it access that doesn’t make sense. For example, if an app wants direct access to your contacts when this is not necessary, make sure you don’t give it access. It’s also good to read the reviews and ratings in the app store before you download an app.

Online shopping can be a lot of fun, and we could definitely all use as much fun as possible this year, but make sure you are being smart and not putting yourself in a situation where you can easily have your identity or financial information stolen. In general, It’s a good practice to reevaluate your online security several times a year.