How to Protect Myself While Shopping Online

Introduction

As with most online things, there are risks we take when we shop online. This guide will help you reduce those risks.

1 Keeping Your Password Secure

Some precautions should be taken in order to keep your password secure.

Best practices:

  • Do not use a master password that you use everywhere (such as email, work, school, home, network)
  • If possible, do not share your password with anybody.
  • Passwords that are shared with others, like for a home network, should only be shared if necessary.
  • Be aware when typing your password in public, or that in no way anyone is watching.
  • Some types of electronic devices like computers and smartphones can remember passwords, so beware of devices that are not yours.
  • Make a schedule of when to change your password. For example, every 180 days.
  • It is not recommended to write down passwords. But if you have to, make sure that it is neither physically nor visually accessible by others.

2 What is SSL?

Always use a secure Internet connection when making a purchase. Reputable websites use technologies such as SSL (Secure Socket Layer) that encrypt data during transmission.

Look for the little padlock in the address bar and a URL that starts with https instead of http, as the s stands for secure.

Most browsers will tell you it's safe to give out your information by showing you a green address bar or a green padlock while unprotected ones will be highlighted in red.

For example:
Secure https example

An unsecure website

3 Using Secure Payments Methods

Only shop on sites that take secure payment methods and have well known security seals such as Verisign.
Verisign

It's suggested that you use a credit card for online payments as they often won't hold you liable for fraudulent charges and are not tied to your bank account like a debit card. Check with your credit card company to see how you're protected.

You can tie your credit card to a Paypal account, adding another layer of protection as Paypal has additional buyer protections.
Paypal icon

4 Fake Ads and Phishing

The internet is full of people who would love to get your data. Fraud has become an industry and while shopping online you'll find any number of fake ads and forms just waiting for you to fall for them.

The use of fake ads or social engineering to gain your data for fraudulent purposes is known as phishing.
Phishing

When inputting any data make sure you are using the legitimate site. Sites with the correct security will tell you in the browser bar. This may be a closed lock or just green text.
Paypal url showing the security info

Avoid opening any emails from strange addresses or clicking on links within emails if you aren't aware exactly where they go. Phishing emails will never come from legitimate addresses.

Example of a Phishing email amazon.com@freephish.com

If you receive an email claiming to have a good deal that you want to use, navigate to the website yourself and avoid clicking the link in the email. If it sounds too good to be true it probably is.

Always remember that no legitimate company will ask you for your password in email.

5 Keeping Yourself Safe

Tips for Safe Surfing and Shopping

Safe secure shopping image
  • Never shop from public Wi-Fi or a public computer. Publicly used computers can save your private information and it can be used by others.
  • Frequently scan your computer for malware using legitimate programs such as MalwareBytes or  Ad-Aware.
  • Use difficult passwords.
  • Use a credit card with fraud protection

Exercise Caution When Using Your Phone

Be cautious of:
  • What websites you visit.
  • What you tap on while on websites.
  • Links and attachments in emails.
  • Granting 3rd party apps permissions.
  • Who you let use your phone.

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As with most online things, there are risks we take when we shop online. This guide will help you reduce those risks.

Some precautions should be taken in order to keep your password secure.

Best practices:

  • Do not use a master password that you use everywhere (such as email, work, school, home, network)
  • If possible, do not share your password with anybody.
  • Passwords that are shared with others, like for a home network, should only be shared if necessary.
  • Be aware when typing your password in public, or that in no way anyone is watching.
  • Some types of electronic devices like computers and smartphones can remember passwords, so beware of devices that are not yours.
  • Make a schedule of when to change your password. For example, every 180 days.
  • It is not recommended to write down passwords. But if you have to, make sure that it is neither physically nor visually accessible by others.

Always use a secure Internet connection when making a purchase. Reputable websites use technologies such as SSL (Secure Socket Layer) that encrypt data during transmission.

Look for the little padlock in the address bar and a URL that starts with https instead of http, as the s stands for secure.

Most browsers will tell you it's safe to give out your information by showing you a green address bar or a green padlock while unprotected ones will be highlighted in red.

For example:
Secure https example

An unsecure website

Only shop on sites that take secure payment methods and have well known security seals such as Verisign.
Verisign

It's suggested that you use a credit card for online payments as they often won't hold you liable for fraudulent charges and are not tied to your bank account like a debit card. Check with your credit card company to see how you're protected.

You can tie your credit card to a Paypal account, adding another layer of protection as Paypal has additional buyer protections.
Paypal icon

The internet is full of people who would love to get your data. Fraud has become an industry and while shopping online you'll find any number of fake ads and forms just waiting for you to fall for them.

The use of fake ads or social engineering to gain your data for fraudulent purposes is known as phishing.
Phishing

When inputting any data make sure you are using the legitimate site. Sites with the correct security will tell you in the browser bar. This may be a closed lock or just green text.
Paypal url showing the security info

Avoid opening any emails from strange addresses or clicking on links within emails if you aren't aware exactly where they go. Phishing emails will never come from legitimate addresses.

Example of a Phishing email amazon.com@freephish.com

If you receive an email claiming to have a good deal that you want to use, navigate to the website yourself and avoid clicking the link in the email. If it sounds too good to be true it probably is.

Always remember that no legitimate company will ask you for your password in email.

Tips for Safe Surfing and Shopping

Safe secure shopping image
  • Never shop from public Wi-Fi or a public computer. Publicly used computers can save your private information and it can be used by others.
  • Frequently scan your computer for malware using legitimate programs such as MalwareBytes or  Ad-Aware.
  • Use difficult passwords.
  • Use a credit card with fraud protection

Exercise Caution When Using Your Phone

Be cautious of:
  • What websites you visit.
  • What you tap on while on websites.
  • Links and attachments in emails.
  • Granting 3rd party apps permissions.
  • Who you let use your phone.
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