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Protect your data: 10 tips for online shopping

By: Lisa Marlin

November 22, 2017

A survey from the National Retail Foundation shows that 48 percent of consumers, or roughly 78 million people, will do online shopping on Cyber Monday this year. That compares with 36 percent of consumers saying they planned to shop online on Cyber Monday in 2016 and 34 percent in 2015.

As more are logging online to shop, there’s little doubt that more are doing that from their office computers, permissible or not. While they’re ready to grab great deals during their breaks, you can bet that cyber villains are just as ready, if not moreso, to break in and grab their credit information and then some.

If you work in a department charged with protecting your organization’s data, it’s vital to keep a step ahead of the villains. Encouraging staff to shop only on personal computers away from the office is best for the work place of course. What’s best for the consumer is to heed some expert advice for safe online shopping. Below are 10 tips garnered from Malware Bytes, the Better Business Bureau, and Tom’s Guide:

1 – Email Phishing: Do NOT click on links from senders you don’t recognize. Hover your mouse over links without clicking to see if the address is really taking you to where it says it is. The reply address should also be on a company domain. Beware of look-alike domains too.

2 – Emails with attachments: Especially emails with zip files, are very suspect and it’s possible they contain malware. Delete them immediately.

3 – Store Websites: Go directly to a store’s website instead of using search engines to look for deals. If you get an email from a store claiming to have a deal, type the store’s URL directly into your browser instead of clicking on the link.

4 – Pop-ups: Many pop-ups could contain fake coupons, redirect you to malicious sites, or expose you to cross-site scripting attacks. Click the “x” and close it.

5 – Social Media Scams: Be very skeptical of Facebook especially. Cybercriminals are using fake or compromised Facebook accounts in order to post links to deals that don’t actually exist.

6 – HTTPS: Make sure you’re on a secure connection. Look for the padlock icon to the left of the URL when you go to check out. If it’s there, then that means the information passed between a store’s server and your browser remains private. In addition, the URL should read “https” and not just “http.”

7 – Debit cards: Avoid using debit cards unless you want cyber criminals to have direct access to your bank account. Instead, use only credit cards or a PayPal account.

8 – QR Codes: Some hackers have started creating codes that link to a phishing or malware site, printing them on stickers, and placing them on top of the legit QR codes. Best to avoid them.

9 – Back-up your data: Have an online backup option in case your device is attacked by hackers.

10 – Plan ahead and don’t be rushed: Cyberattacks can occur in a blink, and sometimes all that’s required is a quick click on a link in an email. Look for clues to malicious links, such as an extra “.cc” at the end of what would otherwise be a trusted domain name. Take the time to make sure you’re on the right website.

Finally, have fun shopping (from home, of course), and check in with us if you have any questions or concerns. We’re here to help. Contact us at info@privaplan.com or call 877-218-7707.