Online shopping makes life so much simpler. Want to buy something from across the country? Go for it. Is that special briefcase only made in Australia? Pay a couple extra dollars and you’ll have it by Wednesday. Don’t feel like living at the mall this weekend? Stay home in your pajamas and order whatever you need from the internet. Want a pizza delivered but don’t have cash on you? Pizza Joe’s mobile app has you covered.
However, all this simplicity creates a huge vulnerability. It should come as no shocker that hackers are out there ready to slip into your transaction at the most opportune moment. And it shouldn’t be news to you that there’s a possibility a Trojan (or other malware) could be hiding out in your computer watching everything you do.
This is why you need to always be extremely careful with how you shop online, from where you buy from to how you purchase an item and when you decide to do it. If you’re a business owner, educate your staff on the dangers of online shopping. All it takes is one sketchy website purchase or click to infect your entire network. John Smith from accounting thought he was getting some new tie clips for cheap from a store in Asia when in reality he was allowing malware into the company network.
So here are six tips to help keep you and your business safe in the online shopping process.
- Check the URL for “https”
Never make a purchase on a site that has “http” only in the URL. Look for the “s” every single time. Why? The “s” on “https” means the site is secure and encrypted. Any information going to the site or away from it will be extremely hard to translate and usually not worth a hacker’s time. But if there is not an “s” in the “https” section of the URL, all the information being shared is open season, which could include credit card numbers, addresses, and personal information.
Only buy from trustworthy companies or stores you’ve visited personally. Nine times out of ten this means buy from larger, more well-known companies who have entire network security teams making sure hackers cannot access customer information. Or, if you’ve been to a small local store in town and would like to purchase from them online, make sure their website is secure by checking the URL up top and vetting their payment processing system.
Make sure your computer has the latest patches installed at all times—and this goes for your phone, as well. All you have to do is open up your settings and scan for potential updates. It’s as simple as that. Don’t create a hole in your system because you forgot to update your device. Hackers scan for holes in networks and system vulnerabilities, which usually come from outdated hardware and software.
Never make an online purchase on public Wi-Fi. Wait until you’re home. Don’t take the chance with a poorly secured connection or an illegitimate hotspot. Those patent-leather shoes are not worth the possible risk of malware infecting your device and your network.
Like public Wi-Fi, never use a public device to make a purchase. Use your own device every time. Don’t trust any device that isn’t yours, even if the devices belong to your friends or family members. What if they lose their phone or let a buddy use their laptop? Your information could end up anywhere and there’s no way to monitor who your friends and family interact with electronically.
You can try utilizing a third-party to complete online transactions, something like PayPal or Google Wallet. If you use an avenue like this, then you won’t have to enter your credit card information directly onto the site you purchase from, which significantly reduces your chance of identity theft. However, keep in mind that these vendors are vulnerable to hackers, as well.
Combining these tips will ensure that your business and personal devices are not taken down by an innocent online purchase. Make sure to educate your employees and always stay vigilant.