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Cyber Security and Online Shopping

With the popularity of online shopping today, the importance of cyber security becomes essential to everyone. Shopping, even in the real world, involves money and where there is money, there go the criminals. And since much shopping is now happening in cyber space, these criminals lost no time in following the money trail targeting online shoppers.

Online shopping became fashionable when people discovered one is free from stress and fatigue caused by crowds and traffic. There is also the convenience of searching whatever it is you want from your home, at your most convenient time, and paying for it without waiting in line. All of these with just a few click of a mouse.

However, the Internet is also a convenient place for cyber criminals as well. They target the online shoppers, fraudulently obtaining information they can use for their own financial gains. These criminals use the three most common ways in attacking the online shoppers.

Unprotected computers
Unprotected computers are easy target for viruses and other malicious codes used by cyber criminals to gain access to the information inside it. On the other end, online vendors have to protect their computers, too, against attackers who may access their customer databases.

Fake sites and email messages
In the virtual online world, a site (or an online store) can be faked by these criminals, with no one the wiser. These fake sites mimic the legitimate ones and inherit the business, at least until they are caught or noticed.

Charities had been misrepresented before, especially during natural disasters or holiday seasons where people pour in donation money and aid. Most often, though, these attackers collect information for their own illegal use.

Cyber safety measures
Maintaining an up-to-date anti-virus program, a firewall and anti-spyware is always the three-pronged first line of defense in cyber security. They protect you against viruses and Trojan horses that may steal or modify your data and make your computer vulnerable. Spyware may also give the attackers access to your data.

Updated browser
Browsers are the gateway between your computer and the Internet. They must be updated first. Also, open the option of automatic updates to your computer so that the operating programs and utilities are up to date.

It is likewise important to check the default settings of your computer and apply the highest level of security. This will preempt the attackers to use default setting of the programs. This applies primarily to browsers, email clients, etc. because these are the connectors to the Internet.

Reputable vendors
This is where care should be taken because cyber criminals are very good at mimicking the sites of legitimate vendors and make it appear genuine. You need to verify their legitimacy before supplying any information. Keep the phone numbers and the physical addresses of these vendors which you can use in case of problems.

Security features and private policies
As always, passwords and other security features add protection, if correctly used. Check the site’s privacy policy before giving out personal or financial information. You have to understand how your information are stored and used.

Encrypted information
Make sure the information you give out are encrypted. To check if it is, see if it includes a URL that begins with "https:" instead of "http:" and a padlock icon. If the padlock is closed, the information is encrypted. Know where the padlock icon is located in your favorite browser because some attackers use fake padlock icons to trick users.

Use your credit card
Credit card charges have laws that limit your liability in case of fraud. This may not be the case for your debit card. Because debit cards draw money directly from your bank account, unauthorized withdrawals could leave you penniless. Needless to say, a record of your purchases should be kept aside. Report immediately any discrepancy.

Shopping online is truly a time-saving, hassle-free, and fun way of buying whatever you want on the Internet. The presence of the ubiquitous cyber criminals stalking at every cyber corner necessitates the need of cyber security as well.

It is everyone’s responsibility.


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