During the surge of online shopping during the holidays, our Chief Technology Officer thought these reminders would be helpful. Here are 10 tips collected from security experts for shopping safely online:
- Make sure your computer and mobile device are fully up-to-date. Do you have the latest Windows or Mac patches installed? Is your tablet or phone running the most recent operating system update? Make sure they are!
- Are you free of malware? Designers of malicious software such as Trojans and key loggers grab your credit card information and site passwords, opening you up to fraudulent transactions. Run up-to-date antivirus software and configure it to fully scan your system from time to time (perhaps every day at 2 AM).
- Were you ever infected? If your machine ever did have nasty malware on it and was not completely wiped (or factory reset), think very hard before using it for any sensitive online activity. It’s virtually impossible to guarantee a once-compromised system is now safe.
- When it comes to shopping, go only to places you trust. If you are following links from fliers, marketing emails or websites, “hover” over the link to check the domain name before you click. If the last part of the domain name, (distinguished by punctuation and including the “dot com”) is not the same as what you know it to be, don’t go there!
Good link (find the “dot com” and what precedes it): https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/8034-ui76?link=bold?cat=elec.
Bad link: (see that there are 2 “dot coms”? The last one is where you will go when you click.) http://www.amazon.com.amazn.com/gp/product/8034-ui76?link=bold?cat=elec.
- Be particularly cautious of deals that are too good to be true. Online specials may be exciting, but the bad guys know what products get people clicking with wild abandon. Don’t follow retailers or marketing materials that you don’t recognize.
- Be particularly cautious of spam email through the holiday season. It always escalates in December, as does the successful fraud that drives it.
- If the website isn’t loading as “HTTPS”, close it down. Do not enter any information. The address should begin with https://.
- Offers requiring you to sign up or register may not be fraudulent, but be aware of precisely what information you are sharing and how the company will use your information. Malicious phishing emails are harder to spot if you also get a lot of legitimate marketing emails. Consider a throwaway email address for such offers; an email account you don’t use for online financial transactions.
- Never enter your bank card details into a pop-up window that appears before the payment stage. Never enter your PIN number anywhere online, period.
- Finally, be sure to keep receipts and some kind of record of the purchases you make online. Protect yourself in the event that you need to return something or dispute charges later.
We hope you have a fun, and safe holiday season. Our own experts are always ready to help you protect your financial assets. For more information, including a phone number if you need to talk to a live person are found on The Peoples Bank Online Security Tools resource page.