It’s officially the season to be merry. December is a time of year where South Africans meet up to spend time with their family and friends. But before this can happen, most will be buying a present or two.
This rush to e-commerce stores does mean that there are massive opportunities for cybercriminals to wedge their way into these transactions and obtain personal information.
But how do you limit yourself from these malicious attacks? By following these easy steps.
Proper Online Outlets
Hackers are opportunistic criminals. An easy gimmick for cybercriminals is to set up a fake online storefront.
We’d strongly advise that you avoid the temptation of trying new online outlets. These fake sites can either infect your machine by way of drive-by-downloads or malicious links. But it is the checkout process where they really can cash in.
During the checkout process you normally need to enter credit card details, names, and addresses.
With these nuggets of information, scamsters can orchestrate a major social engineering attack. However, there are a number of ways to identify a fake website:
- Strange URLs. Sites with titles like Cheap-Cheap_Braais.co.za is a major red flag;
- Odd ranges of products. If a website sells car parts and baking equipment that’s a red flag;
- Broken language. Poor use of language is always an indicator and a red flag;
- Strange contact info. If a website is using a Gmail account, that’s a red flag;
- Prices are too low. If that iPhone 11 is retailing at an amazing price, it’s a trap;
- And, finally, poor design.
- Use Sites That Protect Your Information
- Whenever you’re logging onto an e-commerce site, make sure it has an SSL (secure sockets layer) encryption installed.
To identify whether a website has an SSL, look for the https://, and next to it should be a lock symbol.
Make Sure The Connection Is Safe
Wi-Fi connections aren’t always secure. Hackers can access or intercept ALL of your online activities in real time. If you’re shopping online at a coffee shop, cybercriminals can view your checkout information while you’re typing it in.
If you are wondering what a poorly secured Wi-Fi connection is, it’s:
- Connections without passwords;
- WEP/WPA encryptions;
- And if the router is in an exposed location, allowing for tampering.
A secure Wi-Fi connection is one that uses WPA2 AES encryption. But as a rule of thumb, if it is a busy area, don’t go online shopping.
Update Browsers And Antivirus Software
Always keep your browser software up to date. Having the latest software means that it has been prepped for the latest attacks.
This also applies to your antivirus software.
Be Ready For Cybercriminals
An antivirus can only detect an attack, but as they say, “Preparation is the best cure”.
So, don’t fall for phishing scams, and never click a product link in an email if you don’t know the retailer.
Also, don’t click the unsubscribe button, as this will link you into their trap. Make sure to simply mark as spam any emails you didn’t sign up for.
You can download malware detecting software on your web browser, which will alert you to potential risks.
And as a big rule of thumb, never give more information than required. No online outlet should require your ID number.
Online shopping sites often require you to create a profile. As always, create passwords that are strong and unique, and store them away safely.
Final tips are to activate spending alerts on your bank account and records of your purchases.
Last Online Shopping Security Tips
When shopping this season, the safest way to make purchases is to use your mobile device, and shop through apps.
Apps aren’t nearly as vulnerable as online URLs, because hackers need to create specific software to mount an attack. Also, some app stores require developers to authenticate themselves before the store will list the app, so no fake shopping apps.
And always use a credit card and not a debit card. With credit you’re spending the banks money, and when reported in a timely manner, fraudulent transactions will be reversed.
Banks are more willing to retrieve their own funds.
We wish everyone a safe holiday season and look forward to seeing you in the new year, and remember to shop carefully.
And if you are concerned about your cyber security system, feel free to contact us now.