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Taking steps to protect your personal and financial information online is of extreme importance.
While online shopping has only ever gotten more convenient, it has also created an avenue for cybercriminals to access your personal and financial information. Here are some tips for safe online shopping.
Online Shopping Tips
- Do your homework: Ask yourself if this a legitimate reputable shopping site. Read reviews of the site and make sure that before you purchase, you see the "https" in the front part of the url. The "s" in "https" stands for secure. Do not make a purchase on an unsecure site!
- Be aware of malicious links: Before clicking on a link that supposedly redirects to a shopping site, make sure that this is a link you can trust. Please also see our article on Spam and Phishing.
- Be careful in providing personal information: Be wary of the information being collected in order to complete the transaction. Make sure you think this is necessary information to complete the purchase. Only fill in the required fields. If not, that personally identifiable information will be stored in their system and could be used to target you for an attack.
- Use safe payment methods: Credit cards are usually the safest option as they allow the buyers to seek a credit from the issuer if the product isn't delivered or the website is fraudulent.
Shopping on the go
- Disable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when possible: Stores and other locations use Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to track your movements while you are within range.
- Be vigilant of Wi-Fi hotspots: Cybercriminals set up Wi-Fi hotspots under the guise of a trusted company or organization and log your activity while you use their unsecure hotspot. Through this method, they can access your personal and financial information. Be very wary before joining an open hotspot.
Basic Security Tips
- Use secure passwords: The strongest password is not simply one word spelled in a difficult way with weird characters. The strongest passwords are actually passphrases that are at least 12 characters long that are unique and memorable - just to you. More information from NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) here.
- Questionable link/site? Don't risk it: Links, attachments, and too good to be true offers are the number one way that cybercriminals gain access to your data or machine. It is not worth the risk. Even if you know the source, delete it. It's possible that source was compromised. More information on Spam and Phishing here.