When it’s for online shopping, your security matters immensely. Which security? Your online security, of course! This ties into what cybersecurity experts around the world call security and privacy awareness, or simply cyber hygiene as is the popular term nowadays. Online shopping, or e-commerce, is one of the largest and most profitable industries in the world. The fact that over five billion people are connected to the internet today gives you an idea of just how much online shopping takes place.
Hundreds of airplanes are in the sky as we speak, as well as thousands of delivery vehicles on the road, taking those beloved packages to people across the world that have ordered them online. Due to how immense this realm is, security becomes a top priority, because, simply put, there are equally as many people out there trying to scam, steal, spy on, and hack those who shop online. Such is the state of humanity, unfortunately.
But, rest assured that there are ways to massively reduce risks while online shopping. In fact, paying attention to a few simple tips will save you many headaches down the road, and, Heaven forbid, loss of money or theft of your personal information!
A Bit About Shopping Online
The convenience of online shopping is simply unmatched, and this is all thanks to the high-speed internet, advanced web platforms, and digital payment systems that we have access to. Naturally, this would not be possible without the people from FedEx, UPS, and other delivery services carrying packages to us all over the world.
There are a huge amount of platforms out there on which you can shop. Some of the largest and most popular platforms are Amazon, eBay, and Alibaba. What is different today is that China has expanded its reach incredibly in the last decade or so. For that reason, platforms like Alibaba, Jingdong, Meituan, and Suning.com are out there making billions. This simply was not the case some years ago, when everyone flocked to eBay or Amazon by default.
As far as online shopping goes, it is not only the big players out there that attract millions of shoppers. There are countless smartphone apps out there tied to niche shopping websites such as those for fashion, technology, grooming, alternative goods, you name it.
With all of this, it is crucial that, as an online shopper, you are extremely aware of the risks of not being secure and private while online shopping.
Top Tips for Online Shopping Safety This Year
As mentioned before, 2023 is going to be like any other year this decade. There is more cybercrime, scams, and hacks than ever before. Criminals use sophisticated techniques to skim credit cards, fool users into entering their CVV numbers online, and try to snare them with cleverly-crafted ‘phishing’ emails. On top of that, online privacy has become a big deal. Huge data harvesting algorithms like to profile you while you shop, to paste you with ads which they make a profit from. All of this is an issue you can alleviate to shop online with ultimate peace of mind.
To do this, let’s consider the following shortlist for safety during online shopping in 2023;
- Only shop from legitimate websites and those you explicitly trust
- Make sure the URL you are visiting is HTTPS and padlock protected (address bar)
- Always check your bank statements for any unauthorized transactions
- Use a premium password manager to store and lock away multiple passwords safely
- Avoid and public WiFi ‘hotspots’ you don’t fully know and trust
- Use a separate card for online shopping, not your main account
- Use network security software to encrypt and anonymize your connection, like a VPN
- Install an antivirus and anti-malware solution
When online shopping, the most important aspect to remember is the safety of the internet connection you are using and the strength of your passwords. For one, you never want to access a payment page without a virtual private network, or VPN, running. This software will run your internet connection through a secure tunnel, blocking anyone from sniffing what you are typing in. As far as which brand of VPN to go for, you can go for the recognized premium players such as; NordVPN, ExpressVPN, Cyberghost, and Surfshark.
Installing a VPN is not rocket science. You create an account on the VPN vendor’s website. Next, you download the software for your particular operating system and install it. Finally, you log in to the VPN software, which will activate the application. After this, you simply choose a desired VPN server which will, in turn, activate the secure connection. For example, if you chose to connect to a server in another country, your IP address will reflect that. Meanwhile, if you use one of the premium VPNs, your connection will be secured with military-grade encryption.
Secondly, forget about using simple passwords and repeating them lazily across your other accounts. Use a premium password manager to create, store and input your passwords for you. These typically come with a master key only you have access to. Of course, if you don’t trust this solution, try to keep your passwords on a piece of paper, away from prying eyes. Make sure your passwords are as long and as random as possible, and never, never repeat them on two accounts (let alone three, or four). For good password management software, look at 1Password. It has everything you need and more.
Also, why not look at a good privacy-conscious web browser such as Brave? Browsers like these are miles above your standard browser because they are suited for people who pay attention to their privacy and security.
Finally, you could add another layer of security and use a good antivirus program or antimalware program which will protect you in real-time and warn you of malicious websites and malicious emails. Which brand? Well, when it comes to antiviruses some of the biggest names out there are Norton and Kaspersky. For antimalware, Malwarebytes has been around for a long time and is solid.