Online Security: How to Shop Safely This Holiday Season

Chances are, if you haven’t started, you’re busy making a holiday gift list and getting ready to make your online purchases. The spike in holiday shopping this time of year is inevitable, but it can also make you more vulnerable to a myriad of online threats.

In fact, any computer or device visible on the internet becomes a target for hackers, who try to send it connection requests and expose its weaknesses. Fortunately, you can shop safely by implementing some of these proven safety strategies.

Shop from secure sites: Now is not the time to use new sites for your online purchases. Your best bet is to shop from trusted, well-known sites that you’re familiar with. A rule of thumb: check for the ‘https’ in the web address. This usually indicates a “safe” site.

Install updated antivirus software: Installing updated antivirus software is a good start to keeping your devices secure. Oftentimes, companies will send periodic software updates to cover the latest malware attacks, so make sure to install them.

Don’t shop using public wi-fi. Transmitting credit or debit card information over a public Wi-Fi connection leaves you more vulnerable to cyber attacks. It is best to shop online from home using a protected and secure Wi-Fi password. Even better, using a virtual private network (VPN) provides you with greater security online because it encrypts all data traffic.

Use a credit rather than debit card: In the event that your credit card information is stolen, there are laws in place that will limit your amount of liability. You may not have the same protection with a debit card.

Log out of each website: Leaving a website open or neglecting to log out will leave you more vulnerable to an attack, especially if you entered your personal information and a form of payment.

Don’t allow websites to store your financial information: It can be convenient to store your address and payment information so that the next time you visit the website, it’ll already be entered. In reality, it leaves that information vulnerable to hackers.

Remember, with holiday shopping in full force, it is best to remain vigilant in order to prevent your private information from falling into the wrong hands.