Shopping on the Internet is the new norm and for good reason – it’s ultra-convenient and provides more buying options. Unfortunately, just as it is convenient for you to shop online, so is it for hackers and viruses to get onto your device. In order to protect your computer and your identity while shopping online, you can use the following tips to stay safe.
Get Protection for Your PC or Laptop
It is always recommended that you put a good anti-virus program on your computer. You can find different types of virus protection software, such as Immunet, AVG and McAfee to install on your system. When you have good anti-virus software on your computer, you can keep it safe as you browse the net or even open up email files. A lot of people get viruses in unexpected places, such in emails that appear to be from a trusted site or even a friend. Today, a lot of people’s email accounts are being hacked, and emails are being sent to their contacts list with a link to or download formalware. Simply put, the more you use the Internet, the higher your chances of having your computer attacked.
Safeguard Your Personal Data
The Websites you visit while shopping or browsing should be safe. For instance, the site should have an SSL certificate or take you to a secure area before you enter your financial data and personal information. One way to know is to look at the bottom of the Website to see if you see the lock symbol. The address bar at the top of your Internet browser is another way to check for security. For example, it should say HTTPS before the URL (i.e. https://www.websitename.com ). When you see these indicators, it shows that it is safe to use your credit card to make a purchase. SSL certificates will scramble your details, so that as it travels from your PC to the Website, it will be scrambled. Then, once it reaches the destination, it becomes unscrambled again.
Only Shop On Secure Websites that Have Been Scanned
Just because a Website has security doesn’t mean that it’s fully protected. In order to ensure the safety of a site, a scan has to be performed to find any loopholes that could possibly be used by hackers. With big companies (like T.J. Maxx) being hacked and having credit card info stolen, due to vulnerabilities, major credit companies like MasterCard, Visa, American Express and Discover have decided to ban together to form the Payment Card Industry Council, or PCI Council. This was created to protect sites and their users from credit card fraud and identity theft.
PCI Council requires that all new Websites that process credit card payments to be scanned. In this scan, 1,000s of vulnerabilities and access points are looked at. A report is then made and given to the owner of the Website, so that they can correct any issues that were found. Closing the loopholes can prevent Worms, hackers and Trojans from breaching the site’s security. Unfortunately, this isn’t being enforced right now, which means there are countless Websites out there that have not been scanned. So how can you protect yourself if you don’t know if a site has been scanned or not? Well, there is a way – look for aseal somewhere on the site (usually at the bottom) that says Security Scanned. This means that it has been scanned and passed without any security holes. To ensure that the seals are indeed legitimate, you should compare the seal with the real one. The seals are typically provided through McAfee and Trust Guard.
Here is what you should be looking for with either or:
- McAfee Secure Seal: Will say Tested and today’s date (in blue text). When you drag your mouse over the seal and you should see a URL that begins with https://www.mcafeesecure.com (in green text). If you were to click on the seal, it should open up into a new window that has the same URL and should have a yellow McAfee Secure logoat the top of the page.
- Trust Guard Secure Seal: The seal typically has the Website or company name within the seal, making it more difficult to copy. In blue, you will also see “Passed with today’s date” or “Valid Thru a future date”. When you place your mouse over the seal, it should see a URL that start’s with https://secure.trust-guard.com (in green text).
Safeguarding yourself from the dangers that the Internet can pose should always be at the forefront of your Web browsing. Use these tips to help keep your computer and your personal information safe.