Many of us have turned to shopping online, but it's important to be aware of the threats that we face when buying from websites. INNOVATE have gathered some tips of things to look out for and actions you can take to protect your information and your bank account.
1. Check to make sure the site is secure
When you visit any site, you want to check that it has SSL (Secure Socket Layer) Certification. This means the site is using encryption to protect your data while browsing for your Black Friday or Cyber Monday deals. You can check if a site is secure by:
- Looking for a lock symbol in the address bar
- Check for HTTPS at the beginning of the URL – the ‘S’ stands for Secure and is the important part
- Using a VPN is a good way to make your online shopping experience more secure
2. Does it seem too good to be true?
You’ve heard it before but if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Before you jump in to buying what you think is a major bargain make sure to research the company first. Some key tips:
- Use trusted sources – don’t click on ads or links you are not familiar with. Go to the website independently to check if the deal is legitimate.
- Check reviews – even the best companies will have some negative reviews, so if it is all positive or there are no reviews at all it is best to approach with cautious scepticism or avoid altogether.
- Other indicators – some other things you can look out for are a physical address, contact details like a phone number or email address, social media accounts that are actively posting.
3. Shop online at home
A major threat that can leave you vulnerable to hackers is using public Wi-Fi networks to shop online. If you cannot access a private, secure network switch to your 3G/4G/5G network. This advice applies for shopping, banking and any other sensitive information including passwords.
4. Phone or desktop?
When you shop on your phone, it can be hard to spot indicators of a fake website that would be easier to see on your desktop or laptop. If possible, visit the website on your bigger device and apply the checks in this article for legitimacy.
5. It’s the grammar police!
Spelling mistakes and typos may seem like a simple mistake to some, but on a commercial website these should be non-existent or at the very least a rare occurrence. Most websites and the content on them go through layers of approval to check for mistakes and inaccuracies. If there are a lot, check for other indicators like the HTTPS or reviews to see if it is safe.
Typos – we all make mistakes but if a website has a lot of typos or spelling mistakes this is a big red flag. Most websites go through several layers of scrutiny before they are published to ensure accuracy and a polished look.
URLs – spelling mistakes or typos can also apply to the URL. A common tactic to trick consumers is to make the fake website look almost identical to its legitimate counterpart, including an URL that is almost identical in spelling. The URL might have a different ending like .biz when it should be .com, or there might be a Z instead of an S in the name.
These are some basic actions you can take to help prevent fraudsters accessing your personal information. Some additional things to consider to protect yourself from threats are:
- Passwords – you should update and vary your passwords on a regular basis. Password recycling is a hacker’s dream as if they find it for one account, they can access the rest. If you struggle to remember passwords there are many Password Managers that can help. LastPass are a good option that also incorporate MFA: https://bit.ly/2ZCs3hU
- MFA – Multi-factor authentication has become a vital layer of protection, as threats have become more advanced our methods of protection need to stay one step ahead. MFA normally requires a passcode from a separate device to be entered, this might come from an authenticator app or a text message.
- Protect your business from threats: https://blog.innovate.ie/getting-the-most-from-microsoft
- Webinar: Adapting your Cyber Security in a Virtual Workplace: https://resources.innovate.ie/workplace-security
- Security Solutions with INNOVATE: https://resources.innovate.ie/security-solutions-with-innovate
If you would like to learn more about cybersecurity, and how you can protect your business or organisation from threats reach out today to speak with one of our experts.
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