Holiday Shopping – How to Protect Your Money
Another Thanksgiving dinner is on the books and the holiday shopping frenzy is underway with an increasing number of dollars spent in stores and online. During the trifecta of the busiest shopping days – Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and afterward, how do you protect your money while shopping online and in stores? It’s not just about the money either, identity theft is just as much of a concern during the bust holiday season and all year as well.
Silicon Valley software company Adobe, reported on the online sales of the 100 biggest retailers. Online bargain hunters spent $15.12 billion on Saturday and Sunday. By 10 am on Cyber Monday, shoppers had already spent $840 million. That’s an incredible 16.9% increase over last year’s numbers.
How Do I Know a Shopping Website is Secure?
Any experienced shopper has surfed our way to a website, found what we were shopping for, and then hovered over the buy now button because we are worried that the website looks shady! Even a scam website can be made to look just like their legitimate counterparts, so it is a challenge to tell. By from websites that have a secure certificate. Learn how to check the website to see if it is encrypted. If it is, that means its identity has usually (but not always) been verified as a business entity. It is possible to get a secure certificate without any identity check. Most banks that handle e-commerce websites, require a retailer to work with a certain level of encryption and therefore are checked. Make the URL or website address is correct. Many spoof websites buy a closely named domain name and then set up a few pages that look exactly like a legitimate website. The only difference is the URL. Look closely, and be sure this is the retailer you meant to buy from. When in doubt check that the security certificate matches the website UR, owner. Check for social media reviews and mentions.
Like previous years’ trends, the percentage of sales continues to shift from large screens to small screens. Mobile devices like Smartphones and tablets made up 64 percent of shopping traffic over the holiday weekend and about 40 percent of sales.
How Do I Know my Internet Connection is Secure?
The amount of the holiday shopping that occurs on mobile devices is increasing year-over-year. In order to save on data charges, online shoppers use open public WiFi connections. While they save on cellular data usage, consumers leave their personal data like – name, email address, and credit card numbers – exposed and an easy mark for hackers.
While it is okay to browse website while on public WiFi, it’s defiantly not safe or even a good idea to enter in any type of personally identifiable information while on a shared or public connection. Wait until you are at a secure internet connection, at home or example, to complete the purchase. Remember that social engineering attacks and spear phishing email attacks begin with simple and easily attainable information like an email address and first name.
On Black Friday, retailers fired off almost three billion emails, over 82 million SMS and push notifications.
So how do I protect myself from a phishing scam email?
Phishing scam emails can be very clever but it is possible to identify one if you know what to look for. First look at the email as a whole. If something is telling you this email seems a bit off, even if its supposedly from the name you know and trust, then there is a reason to investigate further before you click on anything.
Look at the from email box name. I’m not talking about the: friendly” name. To clarify the friendly name is the name that shows I the from field. It may be a name you added to your address book, like “Keith,” or it may be set by the sender. The friendly name is different from the more important email box address. The actual sending email contains a domino name, e.g. Keith @ gmail.com or Keith @ askcybersecurity.com (don’t bother sending that, there’s no such email address!). If the sending email box is unfamiliar or does not match the friendly name, then it is most likely spam. Spammers buy incoherent disposable domain names, send out a few thousand emails, are then shut down by the ISPs once detected. Then they begin the whole setup process again. It’s a lucrative business model.
One of the best ways to protect your money is by limiting access to it. Use a credit card or PayPal to pay for online purchases. Avoid using bank cards online and even at point-of-sale terminals. If a bank card is compromised, then hackers have direct access to your money!
Michelle writes about cyber security, data privacy focusing on social media privacy as well as how to protect your IoT devices. She has worked in internet technology for over 20 years and owns METRONY, LLC. Michelle earned a B.S. in Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Michelle published a guide to Cyber Security for Business Travelers