The growth in the popularity of online shopping websites has brought an increase in the activities of cybercriminals that are targeting unwary consumers. If you’re going to get the best out of your online shopping activities — without falling prey to criminals and Internet scams — you’ll need to take a few precautions.
Internet Security tips — for safer online shopping
Here are some useful online shopping tips — from Kaspersky Lab’s team of Internet security experts — to help you to enjoy the Internet in greater safety:
- Search the Internet safely
Even though search engines are very useful when you’re looking for products, reviews or price comparisons, you run the risk of unintentionally clicking on ‘poisoned’ search results that could lead you to malware instead of your intended destination. These poisoned search results are created by cybercriminals that use search engine optimisation (SEO) tricks — sometimes referred to as Black SEO — to manipulate search engine results to include malicious links. Tools such as Kaspersky’s URL Advisor — or third-party browser add-ons, such as Web of Trust — can help prevent you from clicking on poisoned links and entering malicious websites.
- Type the URL into the address bar
Instead of just clicking a link to take you to your chosen retailer’s website, it’s safer to type the retailer’s URL into the address bar on your web browser. It may take a little more effort, but this simple action can help to prevent you visiting a fake or malicious website.
- Get a temporary credit card
Some credit card companies will issue a temporary credit card number for their customers. These temporary numbers can be useful for one-time purchases. However, you should avoid using them for any purchases that require auto-renewal or regular payments.
- Dedicate a computer to online banking and shopping
For added security, you could use a dedicated machine for online banking and shopping. This should be a ‘clean’ computer that is totally free of computer viruses and any other infections. In order to help keep it clean, the machine should not be used for any casual web browsing, social networking or email. Install Google Chrome, with forced HTTPS.
- Use a dedicated email address
It’s worth considering creating an email address that you only use for online shopping. This can help you to reduce the risk of opening potentially malicious email or spam messages that are disguised as sales promotions or other notifications. If such messages are sent to your primary email address, you’ll be aware that there’s a fair chance that they’re fake or malicious.
Manage and protect your online passwords
Using a password manager can help you to deal with multiple accounts and passwords — and to encrypt passwords that would otherwise be in plain text. Some antivirus and Internet security software products include password management and password security features.
- Beware of using public Wi-Fi
When you’re in a shopping mall — about to make a purchase — it can be useful to make a last minute comparison with the best deals that Internet retailers are offering. However, there can be security risks if you access the Internet via a public Wi-Fi network. Cybercriminals can intercept your data and capture your passwords, login details and financial information. If you need to access the Internet when you’re out shopping, it’s safer to do so via your mobile phone network.
- Consider using your tablet
If you have a Linux-based device — such as a Samsung tablet or another device that runs the Linux operating system — it may be safer to use that for online transactions. Apple iPads may also be less likely to be exploited while you’re shopping online — provided that your device has not been jailbroken. However, always remember to avoid using a public Wi-Fi network — or there’s a risk your passwords and other data could be stolen.
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