The holidays are a goldmine for hackers, identity thieves, viruses and more. With an increase in online traffic, these cyber criminals are lurking behind the scenes of what looks to be a legitimate website and/or email. But don't be fooled. These pro's are professional chameleons, blending right in and looking sometimes identical to retailers and top shopping sites.
These 5 online safety tips will help keep you from any unwanted attention and potentially harmful threats.
1. Check the URL. When purchasing online, are you purchasing from a well-known source? Many online thieves create websites that look almost identical to major retail sites such as JC Penny, Walmart, and Amazon. Simply check the URL by clicking on the URL bar and checking its source.
2. Is the website secure? Look at the image above. Notice that the URL begins with https:// and not http://. This extra "s" means this website is secure and uses additional encryption securities when it comes to inputing your credit card information. We recommend only purchasing from sites that begin with https unless you know and trust the site you are purchasing from. If you have never purchased from that site and it does not start with "https," we suggest you avoid it.
3. Email Scams. Yes- it looks like you received an awesome deal in your inbox! But did you really receive a "can't pass up offer" or did you receive some unwanted malware after you clicked on that "buy now" button? The unfortunate truth- the majority of malware is downloaded through emails. Malware hides within the buttons and links of emails from unknown or infected sources. One click- and you have instantly become infected. So before you click on anything, ask yourself:
• Do I typically receive emails from this retailer, person, company etc?
• Do I typically receive emails from this sender?
• Is the sending address one you recognize? If not, do not click or respond to the email. Simply delete it.
4. Never store your credit card information. We all are victims of convenience. But storing your financial information is something that you DON'T WANT TO DO. Anyone, and yes I mean anyone, can access your stored information on your computer. Whats even worse, I hacker who can access your stored information. Don't do it. It is not worth the risk. Take an extra 20 seconds and type your information every time.
5. Secure Passwords. If you do shop online, make sure every password to each individual account is unique. If you only have one password for all accounts, you are a hackers gold mine. Need help with creating secure passwords? Learn more here.