Many companies are selling their products and services online. With the multiple online stores available today, it’s hard to find the right store. Several online shopping sites are malicious and overly insecure.

For that, you must be sure of trusting the particular store before you make any purchases. Making any purchase online means that you must share your debit and credit card details with the particular store. It can be risky and a huge loss if you end up sharing your card details with a scam shopping store.

What makes a site insecure?

Several factors make a shopping site insecure and risky. Some of the common factors include the following;

  • Invalid SSL Certificate. Most of the insecure e-commerce sites will have invalid SSL certificates, which means that the sensitive information of the client will not be secured. For instance, the credit and debit card info can be viewed by anyone.
  • Open password storage. A good e-commerce site should encrypt their customer’s password for the sake of their security. Conversely, malicious sites tend to store the passwords in plain texts, instead of the encrypted format. If the website is attacked, the customer’s passwords will be accessed with ease.

When the site uses an invalid SSL certificate and stores the customer’s passwords in plaintexts, the client’s financial information will be at risk.

Tips on shopping safely online

Now that you know how the malicious sites work, it is vital to learn the best way of shopping online safely. You might not know if a site has a valid SSL certificate or if your password will be stored in a hashed format. Nonetheless, here are some tips to help you shop safely on any e-commerce website.

1. Stay away from phishing offers

A lot of internet criminals target unwary shoppers during the summer. This is because many shoppers will purchase holiday packages, clothes, and other items during the hot season. Customers are mostly after appealing deals during summer, and there is where most of them fall victim. Internet criminals might send you an email deceiving you of affordable holiday packages or discounts at a common retail store.

Clicking those links might lead you to a page that you will be forced to enter your password, and there is where the criminals phish your details. Ensure that you are keen and cautious about emails from unknown senders. Also, make sure that you go through the content, and search the store or deal online for genuineness. This way, you will avoid falling into the trap of phishers.

2. Use secure and reputable payment methods only

This is another area where many shoppers fall victim of the criminals. Regardless of the store you are shopping from, ensure that you only use recognized payment methods. For instance, if you are paying with your credit card, look out for such logos like Visa, MasterCard, or American Express.

3. Be cautious when using Facebook

Many people are using Facebook, not only for meeting with other people but also for selling their products and services. Since the social platform is open for anyone to use, unknown and malicious websites place their ads on the platform to lure buyers. If you are lured to purchase service or products via Facebook, never share your financial information through a message.

4. Check the HTTPS

Any website that starts with the HTTPS is safe to use because it transfers data over an SSL, Secure Socket Layer. For that, ensure that the e-commerce website starts with HTTPS. Such sites can never be hacked by a third-party.

5. Use secure networks

As you are shopping online, always ensure that you are on a trusted network. Conversely, you should avoid using open Wi-Fi. Many people tend to share their information over unsecured public Wi-Fi hotspots, which end up costing them dearly. What happens here is that an attacker can carry out a MiTM, Man in the Middle attack on the users without them noticing. This way, they will have access to sensitive information of the shopper. Ideally, shop at home, and ensure that you disable plug-ins and add-ons before you start shopping.

6. Use a stable password manager/Set a strong password

A lot of people tend to use a similar password on multiple online accounts. While it might seem easy to manage, it can be precarious. Such accounts end up being compromised by the internet criminals. For that, you must ensure that your passwords are strong enough, and use various characters for the password. You can set a long password that features upper and lower cases, symbols, and numbers. If you are opening a different account, ensure that you use a new password. If that seems challenging, you can download a password manager to simplify things.

7. Be cautious when using your mobile devices

While it might be safer to shop using your phone or tablet more than a computer, it doesn’t mean that there are no risks involved. Here are some tips to help you stay safe as you shop using your mobile device:

  • Use authorized apps. Get on the top app stores, like Google Plays Store, and download the official app of your favorite store. Before downloading the app, go through the user reviews to be sure.
  • Use your cellular data when shopping in a public area.
  • Turn off your Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when shopping in public. This prevents Internet criminals from sending you spam content, like a monitoring app.

Also, if you have any strange app that you do not use, uninstall them immediately.

8. Avoid using many devices/computers for shopping

Another thing that increases the vulnerability of your online accounts is when you use various devices to shop. Never shop for items from a computer in a cyber café. Generally, avoid using public or other people’s devices to shop for items online.

9. Purchase using credit cards

Making purchases using credit cards assures you of a secure transaction. A credit card will not be linked to your main bank account, and it will be protected against illegal charges. Also, the credit card is less likely to suffer an identity theft, and you can be refunded whenever an illegal charge is made. The best strategy when using them is to go for a single-use credit card. You can request such from your bank, whereby it is offered with a customizable money limit and time frame. This help to protect your real credit card number from theft.

With these tips, you can be sure of enjoying online shopping without worrying about the ever-growing cybercrime.

August 31, 2016 Shopping guide

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How To Shop Online Safely