Cybersecurity Safety Tips

9 Cybersecurity Safety Tips for Holiday Online Shopping

In the US, half of the consumers say they feel anxious about in-store holiday shopping this 2020. Because of this, experts say that 64% of their budget will go toward holiday online shopping.

Since Santa will become even more “contactless” this year, cybercrimes will surely rise. At the very least, cybercriminals will attempt more illegal acts. They’re always around, but they become more prevalent during the gift-giving season.

That’s why you need to up your security ante even before you start your holiday shopping spree. Otherwise, you may end up gifting the wrong people.

To that end, we came up with this ultimate list on how to holiday shop online with safety in mind. Read on to learn how you can protect yourself from cyber risks and threats.

1. Ensnare the Phish

Some 3.7 billion people around the world send an estimated 269 billion email messages every day. The thing is, one in every 2,000 of these emails is a form of phishing. Doing the math, this means that around 135 million emails sent each day are phishing emails!

The goal of most phishing emails is to capture the personal and financial details of victims. These can include bank accounts, login credentials, and social security numbers. “Phishers” can then use the information to commit fraud or identity theft.

It can be quite easy to fall victim to phishing emails because many of them appear to be “official.” They use stolen brand logos and digital signatures to convince victims they’re legit. They craft these emails in such a way that they make consumers think they’re trustworthy.

And with the holidays just around the corner, you can be sure that many of these emails will get sent to you. They most likely will pose as your favorite brands, claiming to offer sales and discounts.

With that said, the best way to keep phishing attacks at bay is to keep your browsers updated. This way, they can download and install fixes and patches for their phishing filters. You can also set up extra phishing and anti-spam filters for more peace of mind.

Most importantly, if an email looks fishy, then it most likely is, so be sure never to click on and open such messages!

2. Avoid the Extension Trap

Let’s say that you want to snag Black Friday deals for laptops, smartphones, or anything else. Before you do, make sure that you run a thorough check on your browser’s extensions first. If there’s any that looks unfamiliar or suspicious, uninstall them right away.

That’s because many cybercriminals are behind malicious browser extensions. In fact, this June 2020 alone, Google yanked 106 of these malicious extensions out of Chrome. In February 2020, Google also said that it removed over 500 of these add-ons due to malware.

Many of these dangerous programs pose as tools to boost web searches and experience. They claim to provide free services like online security scanners or file conversions. However, they may contain code that let them bypass the Chrome Web Store security.

These programs that get past security can take screenshots and copy clipboard data. They can also harvest authentication cookies or even mimic user keystrokes! The latter gives them the ability to record login credentials, especially passwords.

As such, it always pays to carry out browser checks before you start your holiday shopping online. This way, you can be sure that your extensions list doesn’t have any “unfamiliar” add-ons in there.

3. Update Your OS and All Software

A 2019 UK study found that missing patches and outdated apps were behind 22% of high-risk issues. For starters, missing patches provide a way for malware to enter and then exploit a system. Out-of-date software, in turn, doesn’t receive crucial updates that contain these patches.

That’s why it’s paramount to keep your OS and all installed apps up-to-date. Get them updated before you start your holiday or Black Friday shopping activities. Consider automating the download and installation process for the updates too.

This way, you can avoid the dangerous pitfalls of missing critical patches. Besides, updates contain fixes for bugs, so they also help boost the performance of your apps.

4. Confuse the Enemy

This may sound ridiculous, but there are still a lot of people who use “password” as their password. What’s more, many of them aren’t regular consumers: some are government workers themselves.

With that said, using “password” or “12345678” is just asking for some serious trouble. The same goes if you use the same password across all your online accounts, even if it’s a strong one. If cybercriminals get ahold of your PW, they can get into all your accounts with this credential.

So, as much as possible, you should use varying passwords for all your online accounts. Use a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, characters, and numbers. A reputable password generator and manager can help you organize all your passwords.

Cybersecurity Safety Tips

5. Build a Wall

Today’s malware protection services can protect against all sorts of malicious programs. These include viruses, worms, malware, and ransomware. They also safeguard you against advanced online threats that a traditional antivirus can’t.

The most reputable malware protection programs can also beef up your Wi-Fi security. Most of them allow you to perform scans manually, but you can set them up to conduct real-time monitoring. The more advanced protection systems also block incoming threats and remove existing ones.

Best of all, reputable names, like Malwarebytes, Avast, and Panda, have a free version. You may want to go with their paid premium versions, which offer more security features. They offer free trials, though, so take advantage of these right before you start shopping.

6. Skip the Debit, Stick to Credit

When you shop online, consider using only credit cards or payment services such as PayPal. These can stop or reverse fraudulent purchases. They also have more security features, such as multi-factor authentication (MFA) protocols.

By contrast, debit cards are riskier, as they provide instant access to your bank accounts. Once a cyber thief gets access to your debit card info, they can transfer all its contents to their accounts. They can deplete your savings, and, depending on the case, you may not be able to get it back.

7. Keep It Under a Tight Lock

Google and other Internet browsers started flagging sites as “not secure” back in 2018. However, many of the world’s largest sites still feature “mixed content.” So, even if the site itself is secure, it may have links or ads that point and redirect to “not secure” sites.

Moreover, problems with site security certificates occur from time to time. For instance, last March 2020, three million trusted websites had their certificates revoked. This led to visitors encountering the warning “this site is not secure.”

This is why you should still be proactive and exercise due diligence as you shop online. If the site’s web address doesn’t start with “HTTPS,” or it doesn’t have the lock sign, close it right away. This means that it’s not encrypted, and if you stay on that page, your data will be at risk of potential leakage.

8. Shop From the Comfort and Security of Your Home

One of the biggest perks of online holiday shopping is that you can do it without even getting up from your chair. You get to keep your “social” and “physical” distance, seeing as you can avoid long queues. In addition, you have the assurance that your home Wi-Fi is stable and secure.

If you do have to go out, avoid connecting to public Wi-Fi services, such as those in cafes. Even free hotel Wi-Fi is risky, as cybercriminals can “eavesdrop” on such connections. From there, they can steal your sensitive info for their financial gain.

Even if you have data service, avoid doing your online holiday shopping outside of your home. Prying eyes can be looking over your shoulder as you input your banking info into your device.

9. Don’t Forget Your Smartphone and Tablet Security

More than six in 10 online fraud instances occur through mobile platforms. Over eight in 10 mobile fraud cases, in turn, take place via mobile apps rather than mobile web browsers. After all, mobile apps hold more saved info than software installed on computers.

That’s why you also need to keep your other mobile devices under lock and key. As always, avoid connecting them to public Wi-Fi services. You should also equip them with malware protection programs for extra security.

If possible, enable multi-factor authentication on all your mobile devices. Aside from asking you for your password, MFA may also ask for your fingerprint, facial scan, or an extra code. This sounds tedious, but it’s for your cybersecurity.

Keep Safe With Secure Holiday Online Shopping Behaviors

There you have it, your ultimate guide on safe and secure holiday online shopping. Don’t skip anything on this list, as the more “walls” you build; the safer and more secure your data will be. Besides, these tips aren’t only for the holidays; they can also protect you year-round.

Ready for more lifestyle, shopping, health, and tech tips and tricks like this? Then be sure to stay on our site so that you can read more of our news and blog posts!

Article written by admin

By Profession, he is an SEO Expert. From heart, he is a Fitness Freak. He writes on Health and Fitness at MyBeautyGym. He also likes to write about latest trends on various Categories at TrendsBuzzer. Follow Trendsbuzzer on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.