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What Are the Biggest Security Threats When Shopping Online and How to Avoid Them

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Online shopping is one of the greatest benefits of the modern age. Once you have an Internet connection, you can buy practically anything from the comfort of your home. Literally, the biggest effort is to click “buy” and enter the delivery details and the card details through which you pay.

What Are the Biggest Security Threats When Shopping Online and How to Avoid Them
Photos: Unsplash.

Of course, this leads us to cybercrime. There will always be some individual or group of hackers who will try to steal your money. Especially in this (pre)Christmas time when everyone buys online. If you don’t shop online so often, sometimes it is easy to fall for fake payment sites as well as fake webshops. Fortunately, there are certain actions you can take to protect yourself.

Why Will Online Shopping Stay With Us?

Online shopping is the best way for many to shop because of its simplicity and convenience. Although online shopping has been popular for many years, the pandemic has accelerated this trend, which is currently growing exponentially. Many were banned from moving around or restricted where they were allowed to go, so online shopping was their ‘salvation’, more precisely, the only way they could even get groceries. Because, today, you can buy everything online – from the mentioned groceries to cars.

Furthermore, the pandemic has caused various changes in consumer habits, but the main change is that more and more people are starting to shop online. This is becoming the primary way of shopping for many. As people turned to online shopping, more and more of them became aware of digital threats. This is actually a good thing as people have become more cautious when shopping online, shopping from verified sites, and watching which sites they visit and where they leave card information.

Some research suggests that, globally, there could be an 18-20% increase in online store-related thefts. Don’t be a part of that statistic.

6 Security Threats When Shopping Online

Unencrypted Data

Data encryption is one of the key techniques of web applications to increase security. More precisely, it is a security practice that is necessary today. When you enter information such as your credit card details on a website, you expect that information to be protected with a satisfactory level of encryption. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

Some websites, including webshops, don’t encrypt data. They usually have expired SSL certificates and HTTP protocols that make them vulnerable. Any website whose URL starts with HTTP instead of HTTPS is not secure, and this should be a ‘red flag’ to you. Google has even started informing users when they visit such sites that they are not safe. Still, don’t rely on Google, but on yourself. In web shops, be sure to check whether the HTTPS protocol is used or not.

Adware

You have probably seen ads pop up for you when you visit a particular website even though you have not clicked anything on that same page. These unwanted advertisements are known as “adware” – advertising software that generates some revenue for its owner.

Under normal circumstances, such advertisements are legitimate and often offer legitimate discounts on certain products. How many times have you seen an ad offering a “…%” discount on a particular brand? Many times, probably. Unfortunately, cybercriminals use the same technique to lure you to their infected websites. When you come to the website in question, they may ask you for personal information, such as your name, last name, e-mail address, card details, and the like. Also, sometimes you will try to close that page by pressing the “X” icon, but this can be a trigger to infect your computer. 

In any case, don’t enter personal information on unverified sites.

Identity Theft

One of the most common security risks is identity theft. Cybercriminals can sometimes hack private websites and steal user login information or credit card details if they are stored in a database. Even if they don’t use that card, they will potentially sell card information on the black market.

Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence around various holidays, when online shopping is growing strongly and everyone is buying something online. This also often happens when you bet online via credit cards on betting sites because such activity of yours also reveals your card details and login parameters. To avoid this, we recommend betting on secure sites, and the best of those are at Bookmaker-Expert.com.

Fake Online Stores

Not all online stores are secure and legitimate. Some of the websites are run by criminals and hackers who have only one intention – to steal your money and private information.

Many fake sellers have quite decent (and modern) webshops full of products at low prices that they don’t intend to deliver to you. You ‘buy’ them and wait, but you will never get them. Instead, you will remain without your money. And, as we said – they will steal the information you gave them. Unfortunately, many of them have started doing enticing advertisements on social networks that lead you to the mentioned websites.

Data Breach

A data breach occurs when hackers gain unauthorized access to the data of a particular website. When you enter private information on a particular website, it stores it in its database. That part is legitimate, although one should be careful which data is stored in that database and which is not. After that, hackers/criminals get this information which they can then use. Unfortunately, many times we are not even aware that by providing information we risk problems if a hacking attack occurs.

While it is your responsibility to protect your information on a site that sells things, you must be aware that it is not the same to give information to a company such as Amazon and a third-party site that you are not sure who made it. A hacker attack can happen to Amazon as well, but they have defense mechanisms and employ hundreds of people who will do anything to protect your data.

Insecure Wi-Fi Network

Using an insecure Wi-Fi network for online shopping is a pretty bad move, especially if you don’t know who is behind that Wi-Fi network or how that network is protected. Many connect to public Wi-Fi networks in cafes and shopping malls but don’t know who can abuse it. Such networks are a great opportunity for hackers to try to collect as much data from the network.

If you are shopping online, then you should be doing it on your own network. Don’t shop online while connected to insecure and/or public Wi-Fi.

How to Protect Yourself When Shopping Online

The very fact that you are aware of the dangers lurking when shopping online is a great starting point. So you will be more careful what you do, but there are some more things you can do to be sure:

Update your web browser and operating system: Keep your devices and operating systems “clean” by always updating the current versions of the applications and software you use on them. Often, upgrades also contain various security patches to protect you from various software vulnerabilities and to protect you from online attacks. Don’t ignore notifications telling you that you can update an app or operating system.

Use good anti-virus/anti-malware software: Hackers can send a virus or malware to your device without having physical contact with you. You can prevent this by installing proven and high-quality anti-virus and/or anti-malware software.

Avoid using debit cards: Using a credit card when shopping online is often much safer than using a debit card. This is because credit cards are better secured by banks and there is some protection for their holders. We are not saying debit cards are not protected, but credit cards have some better security mechanisms.

Use “Script blockers”: Script blocker is a smart web browser extension that gives you extra security protection. It blocks unnecessary and often harmful scripts running on web pages. Many hackers use vulnerabilities in such scripts, so you will prevent such a scenario.

Watch for clear signs: It is very important that you use websites that encrypt your data. We have already written about that in this text. If you see that the webshop uses the HTTP protocol instead of HTTPS, don’t use it.



By

Ram Kumar blogs at DeviceBowl. He is a graduate in Computer Science and Engineering. Addicted to Blogging and Coding.

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