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With Black Friday and Cyber Monday once again on the horizon, millions of shoppers will be scouring the web to find that sweet deal.
But those days are also a hackers delight when the hunt for the biggest savings makes consumers more susceptible to scam websites and fake marketing emails.
Here are a few simple ways you can improve your online security over the holidays and whenever else you hop online to shop.
‘S’ stands for ‘Secure’
When using secure online services, such as online shopping, using email or online banking, make sure you are accessing a secure website by checking for “https” in the browser. Websites must pass certain security tests to be accredited with the ‘s’ and the padlock symbol in the address bar.
Be Aware of Links
Hackers create a lot of websites that can pass as real. Bad web design is a red flag for scam web pages. Be suspicious of hyperlinks (notably shortened links) that come from unknown sources, such as in an email.
Beware of Public Wi-Fi and Public Charging Points
When making online purchases, be sure to shop on secure Wi-Fi at home, not a public network like at a coffee shop. If you have to shop on the go, you should use your data plan or a personal hotspot.
Also know it is possible to hack a smartphone that is charging via USB in a public place, so only plug your phone into trusted computers when using a USB cable.
Keep Your Software Up to Date
Downloading software updates for computers, phones, tablets, and other devices when they’re available is a good way to protect yourself. The updates often include improved security settings and patches that fix vulnerabilities.
Use a separate credit card for online shopping
Getting a separate credit card to use for all online shopping can help mitigate damage if a hacker gets their information from the card. The rest of your credit and bank information will stay safe.
Monitor Your Bank Account
This time of year, consumers are often making a large number of purchases. While you should always be checking your credit card and bank statements regularly, you want to pay extra attention to make sure you’ve made all those transactions. Turning on mobile notifications is a great way to stay plugged in.
Sources: MarketWatch, LA Times & The Telegraph