6 online shopping tips to stay safe this holiday season

cyber santa

Nov 16, 2022

‘Tis the season for holiday shopping, and that means many of us will be making purchases online to avoid large crowds and busy mall traffic. While online shopping has made our lives easier, cybercriminals see Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa as ways to make a quick profit.

Whether you know it or not, the holidays are a bonanza for cybercriminals and more than half of holiday shoppers will find themselves making purchases online during the 2022 holiday season. This means it's more important than ever to make sure you're taking the necessary precautions to stay safe while shopping online. 

In the first half of 2022, over 53 million individuals were affected by unauthorized access to sensitive data.

To protect your identity and your wallet, follow these six cybersecurity tips:

  1. Use mobile payments instead of your card

    Mobile devices are increasingly vulnerable to malicious attacks. Make sure that any financial accounts you access from your mobile device, such as your bank account and credit card information, are protected. For extra protection use apps like Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, or Google Pay.

  2. Shop securely with a VPN

    Never use public or free Wi-Fi to shop online or check your bank account. These networks are known for being a hotbed for hackers, who actively scan for credentials, financial data, personal data, etc., and then sell it for profit. You can check your bank account on the go by turning off your phone's Wi-Fi and using a virtual private network (VPN) instead.

  3. Be vigilant at all times

    Be skeptical of any digital messages you receive, including emails, text  messages, and even phone calls. Never open emails from unknown senders or click on links to "deals" that seem suspicious. An email advertising a holiday sale might disguise a phishing attempt, directing you to a fake website that collects your personal information.

  4. Make your passwords stronger

    Passwords should never be reused. Using unique login credentials for every service ensures that if one site is compromised, the credentials cannot be used on any other site. Password managers allow users to create unique passwords for each site in order to keep track of so many password-protected sites. The idea of giving your passwords to a company may seem scary at first, but it's definitely safer than using the same password all over the Internet. For more information on how to properly secure your passwords, check out this infographic.

  5. Know your way around the web

    Ensure that you only shop on websites with an SSL certificate. The website you are making purchases from should begin with https instead of http, otherwise it is not secure. Without the security feature of an SSL certificate, malicious cybercriminals will be able to steal your personal and financial information. Your browser's address bar should read HTTPS (not just HTTP). The "S" represents secure communication and signifies that all data passed between your browser and the website is encrypted.

  6. Take precautions when clicking

    No matter what you click, whether it's phishing emails, texts offering false sales, or unsecured retail sites with your credit card information exposed, every click counts. Be careful before clicking. Fraudsters use your frazzled or distracted state to exploit you. Take the time to assess links and websites before giving them your personal information. Remember the rule of R2 and read the headers: the reply to and return path must always be the same.

The six cybersecurity steps listed above can help you become a more responsible and cyber-secure online shopper. As online shopping grows, cybercriminals will have an easier time stealing personal information. Protecting yourself is the best present you can give yourself this year. Make your holidays merrier and stress-free by contacting Milner today for any of your IT security needs.