It’s that time of the year again. Consumerism reaches a frenzied state during the holiday season and Black Friday with the subsequent Cyber Monday deals are widely seen as some of the best bargains available all year around.
When millions of customers embrace shopping in the space of a few days, malicious hackers and attackers see a company’s or a retailer’s database as a jackpot, precisely because of the troves of customer data that are available.
For instance, a significant Black Friday breach occurred in 2013 when Target was targeted by a malware that infected the retailer’s point-of-sale systems to transmit sensitive payment information to servers located outside the country. Furthermore, consumers aren’t likely to trust a retailer that has been subject to a data breach. Security is a critical component of safe, effective online shopping, for both consumers and retailers. Even Amazon recently enabled two-factor authentication as an added security feature.
With this in mind, here are a few pointers to help secure your shopping experience with safe shopping habits:
- Shop on secure websites. Always. Look for the lock icon on your browser by the website’s URL and ensure that the website is encrypted and starts with HTTPS:// rather than HTTP://.
- Try using Credit cards instead of Debit cards. Credit card companies will almost always help you with fraudulent purchases (if any) made from your cards and they are also likely to offer identity theft protection, a feature that isn’t yet widely adopted with debit cards. If you’re shopping at the physical store, cash would be your safest mode of payment!
- Use secured networks while shopping. Try to shop at home instead of having to rely on public Wi-Fi networks.
- Avoid ridiculously good deals. If the deal is too good to be true, chances are it is instigated by a scammer looking to access your payment information. Avoid clicking on links sent to your email and most of all, do not enter your banking details or credit/debit card information on websites that aren’t trustworthy.
- Keep a close eye on your statements. As a general habit, monitor your accounts periodically and even more-so during the holidays to ensure that you are charged only for what you’ve purchased.
- Try to avoid storing your details elsewhere. Although most websites offer the means to save your debit or credit cards online, the theft of your card information is entirely possible with a data breach. Try to avoid saving your card information online.