Cyber Monday is here and the festive season is just around the corner, and with most of us shopping from the comfort and safety of home, this year’s shopping season expected to be the biggest one yet.
We already benefit from numerous security features that protect our personal data when looking for deals and making purchases on the internet. Most of us seldom consider the safety of an online store or service these days. However, hackers and scammers are still a major threat to consumers and shouldn’t be taken for granted.
This is especially true during the festive season. 46% of all businesses suffered a security breach last winter, and with online shopping booming right now, cyber threats are increasing exponentially all the time. Big businesses are more at risk, but small online stores are vulnerable too.
Award-winning IT Support London company, Totality Services, offers the following guidelines for avoiding fraudsters over Cyber Monday and the upcoming festive holiday.
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Check the Website
There are several things you can do to verify that an online retailer is trustworthy. Start with the URL in the address bar at the top of your browser.
At the very least, it should have SSL (secure socket layer) encryption, which is evident when the URL begins with ‘https’ as opposed to just ‘http.’ A padlock icon will typically appear in the same area. You can click it to check the site’s security certificate. It’s unusual for stores to use ‘.org’ or ‘.net’ and ‘.co.uk’ or ‘.com’ is more common.
Take a look at the content on the website, including image quality and grammatical errors or spelling mistakes. Legitimate retailers are unlikely to ever go live without having thoroughly checked these aspects of their site. Head over to the ‘contact us’ section and stay away from those that only provide a form instead of emails and phone numbers.
When dealing with unfamiliar stores, have a quick look at their reputation. Previous customers might have posted negative feedback and warnings against scams. Here are some resources you can use to find reviews:
On marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay, and Etsy, check how the seller was rated by other customers and be wary of those that are newly established or have made very few sales.
Create Secure Passwords
With an ever-growing collection of accounts, keeping your login information safe can become tiresome. Nonetheless, it’s imperative when shopping online. Your best bet is to make use of a password manager such as 1Password, LastPass, or NordPass. These assist in creating, storing, and synchronising your passwords across websites and devices.
- Make unique passwords for every account
- Don’t use words or phrases that can be easily guessed
- Include a variety of numbers, symbols, and cases
- Stick to a minimum of 15 characters
- Leverage two-factor authentication (2FA) where possible
- Prevent your browser from storing passwords to keep them safe from malware
Avoid Public Wi-Fi
Your online shopping experience is much safer when done over a home internet or mobile network connection. On the other hand, public Wi-Fi networks such as those found in restaurants are prone to security risks.
Anyone can connect to an open network, including cybercriminals who can leverage them to access your device. This gives them free rein to steal your login information, financial details, and other sensitive data. Hackers can also use public Wi-Fi networks to spread malware on any other devices that are connected.
Identify Phishing Attempts
As you may already know, phishing is when scammers pose as legitimate entities in order to obtain private information through an email or message. These types of threats are especially prevalent during the festive season when cybercriminals send out seemingly attractive deals from recognised retailers.
Look out for scam attempts including prizes and offers from suspicious sources or companies that you never requested to receive communication from. While email platforms can usually detect phishing emails, it’s good to avoid opening any message that causes concern. Delete them immediately and avoid clicking any links or downloads.
Update Your Software
The world of cybercrime is constantly evolving, with countless new threats appearing each day. It’s important to regularly check the software on your devices to ensure you’re running the latest version. This includes all of your apps, browsers, and operating systems. It’s also wise to download security software for additional protection.
Here are a couple of suggestions:
- VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) such as NordVPN or ExpressVPN to secure your connection
- Internet security platforms such as Avast and SecureAnywhere to protect against malware
- Secure and reliable browsers such as Firefox or Google Chrome
With much of the nation working from home, businesses that employ remote workers should also consider an IT Support London solution to safeguard employees using potentially vulnerable home networks. WFH IT Support, which is part of Totality Services, provides this with services ranging from DNS protection to email filtering and more.
On any website where you spend more than £100 on your credit card, the purchase is protected by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. This means that you can speak to your bank about organising a refund in the event that you run into a problem such as:
- An order not arriving
- Not receiving the service you paid for
- Products that are faulty
- Being charged more than the specified price
- Fraudulent use of your card
Keep this in mind in situations where the seller cannot help you get your money back or outright refuses to comply. Your card provider is more than likely to assist.
If you’re looking for a complete security solution or technical support, Totality Services is an IT Support London company that can provide what you need. Don’t hesitate to contact us for an no obligation-free chat with one of our IT experts.