IT Security

Online Shopping Safety

Safely Shop Online

Online shopping is certainly convenient, but it is fraught with hazards. Exert the extra effort required to protect yourself while shopping online and save yourself from the virtual messes that you will need clean up if you don’t. Here are some risks that you need to be aware of to shop safely:

Identity theft. Identity theft is a common risk of online shopping. Using various tactics such as email phishing or keylogging, cyberattackers can use information that they have collected about you to make purchases in your name.

Counterfeit products. A big red flag that an item is a knock-off is that it is being sold at an unreasonably low price. The chances of this increase with third party sellers, so be sure you are buying legitimate goods from a reputable seller by asking lots of questions, scrutinizing their reviews, and trusting your instincts.

Fake online reviews. So, about those reviews you must scrutinize… you really do need to look carefully. It is very common to come across listings with five-star reviews that are entirely fictional. Be wary of reviews that are overly positive, lack detail, and are all similar to each other in language, style, and/or grammar.

Fake websites. Cyberattackers often set up fake websites that mimic reputable websites to trick you into offering them your sensitive personal information. Some clues that the website you are on is a fake are a slightly altered URL and reviews that overly positive and vague.

Misleading comparisons. If you are using a price comparison engine to shop for a certain item, consider that the price + shipping may be wrong, or may be missing other costs or conditions that you may encounter at the checkout. Some of these could simply be taxes, but they could also include membership fees or necessary parts that are not included in the purchase price that was listed.

Malware. Sometimes when you click on a link or download an attachment it deploys malicious software that infects your device and compromises the sensitive information on your device. Do not rely on the security features on your browser or antivirus software to protect you. Be sure that you are clicking on a link from a trusted source and trust your instincts about any suspicions you have.

Data leaks. Every website that you register your name and password with could be the one that experiences a data leak; they are quite common. Be selective about the website that you create an identity on to minimize your vulnerability.

Trackers. Websites that you interact with online collect data about your interests, likes, dislikes, and purchase history. They can use this information to lure you back to their website as you browse the web, and they can also sell it to data brokers that buy and sell personal information. If you want to avoid this, use anti-tracking software or plug-ins.