Today is the biggest Internet shopping day of the year in the United States, Cyber Monday. During this day you will be tempted to visit a plethora of online storefronts, hunting for the huge deal on your next TV, computer, article of clothing, etc.
Here are a couple tips to remember to keep you safe on Cyber Monday:
- Secure Browsing. Many e-commerce websites use SSL (https:// in front of the web address instead of http://) to encrypt the transmission of sensitive data to and from their storefront. The reason for this is that if you are surfing on a public Wi-Fi or hotspot, someone could be listening in on your Internet traffic. If the transmission of your data is not being encrypted then there is a chance that a nefarious person could receive all of the information you enter, from name and address to your credit card data. Keep an eye out for a lock in the address bar to indicate that your session is encrypted!
- Common Sense. Going to websites such as www.amazon.com is a normal occurrence — especially on huge shopping days. However, you may receive an email or notice a post on social media that points to a website that you have not heard of before, offering amazing deals. Do your research before navigating to these websites and handing over your personal and financial information.
- Common Sense (part 2). Oh, and if you really want to go to that new site, don’t click the link! Type the address. The bad guys are still in the business of subterfuge. They hide bad links underneath the hyperlink of text you would otherwise trust.
- Password Management. As we mentioned in previous posts, you need a strong password. Do not use names of loved ones, pets, anniversary or birthdates. You want a long string of characters to make cracking those passwords harder. For a fun way to generate yourself secure passwords, see this comic from xkcd.com. Second, you should NOT reuse these passwords from site to site. Your bank password should be different from your shopping website password. An easy way to manage this is by using one of the many password managers that are out there.
- Take it One Step Further. To actually prevent yourself from having your credit card data stolen you can take advantage of disposable credit card numbers. These are numbers that are created for a one-time use that are linked to your credit card account, then are disposed of when used. A lot of card companies offer these.
Using some or all of these pieces of advice should give you the peace of mind to continue your festive shopping. While this article coincides with Cyber Monday, these are very good topics to remember when surfing the Internet during any time of the year.