A Guide To Staying Safe With Online Shopping

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Ever since the development of e-Commerce, the hassle of shopping has been on the decline. No more have we to go from pillar to post in search of what we need. Gone are the days when needed to haggle over prices. We’ve also done away with waiting in long queues to pay for what we bought. Now, with the press of a few buttons, we can order anything we want via Online Shopping

How can you stay safe with online shopping?

Online shopping has certainly evolved in leaps and bounds to make our lives easier. But one should always remember, there are pros and cons to anything. So it is with online shopping. If you were to look up methods to keep you safe during online shopping, the results would be in the millions. So we decided to make things easier and list down a few key pointers to keep you safe.

Use Protection

This may seem not important, but most antivirus applications (free or subscription based) have some sort of rudimentary method to keep you safe from online threats. If you visit a website that has malicious content running on it, the application will notify you immediately and block the threat. Also make sure that your antivirus application is updated with the latest malware definitions and also ensure that whatever browser you’re using is updated as well.

Online shopping
Prevention is better than a cure

Keep an eye out for the little things

If you’re going to make an online purchase, make sure the website has HTTPS. Compared to HTP which stands for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol, the S adds security. If you’re considering buying from a site whose URL starts with HTTP, be careful with the information you share. Another sign of a secure site are a closed lock or unbroken key at the bottom of the screen.

Online shoppingReputation is important

Always make sure you’re buying something from a reputed seller. Be it via Facebook, or eBay or Amazon or GeekBuying (for all your gadget needs), always make sure that the seller is verified and that the website you’re on is verified as well. Read reviews of the products sold and see the quality of the product. Stay away from products that have low or no ratings at all as you can’t be sure if the products are legitimate or not.

Use a virtual keyboard

This may look like we’re going overboard but certain malware can install what is known as a keylogger in your desktop or laptop. Once installed, it will record all the keystrokes you type. This includes your passwords, email addresses and even credit card details. All these details will then be sent to the hacker who infected your PC. So you’re essentially just handing over all of what you have typed throughout the day to an unknown party.

Online Shopping
Image Credits: YouTube

By using a virtual keyboard, you’re entering characters and symbols with your mouse by clicking, so there’s no keys being pressed to record. Most operating systems have an inbuilt onscreen keyboards and even Kaspersky Internet Security has a virtual keyboard that they recommend to use when entering sensitive information. This may be more time consuming, but is guaranteed to keep you safe during online shopping.

Don’t use public Wi-Fi

While public wifi- hotspots may offer free internet for you to browse, it is highly recommended to stay away from them if you’re shopping online. Any personal information you enter whilst using a public network, is an open invitation for identity theft. Most Wi-Fi hotspots don’t encrypt your data, so if a hacker is connected to the same Wi-Fi network you are on, with the right tools, he/she can access all your information without you even knowing it. If you see something you really like, consider just bookmarking the page and purchasing it from the (online) safety of your home.

Change your password and use a password manager

Remembering password for all your accounts is frustrating. Especially when you forget one. Changing a password for a particular account is even more of a hassle. But it’s a necessary step if you want to keep your sensitive information safe while you’re doing any online shopping. It’s recommended to change your password every 3-6 months. It’s also recommended to have different passwords and not use the same password for two accounts. If you’re really bad at remembering passwords, use a Password manager.

Online Shopping
LastPass is an all-in-one password manager and generator

LastPass, for example, can store all your passwords and even generate passwords for you and store them so you don’t have to remember passwords, and also any password generated by the application is random so even a brute force attack would take some time.

And there you have it

Well there you go. If you follow these steps, you can be assured that any online shopping you do would be safe and verified. As stated above, there are many more ways to be safe so always read up before committing to anything. This involves online shopping as well. Happy shopping.

Do you do online shopping? Have anything to add? Leave a comment below.

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