5 tips for safe online shopping this festive season
* More people than ever before will hunt for deals and shop online this festive season
* Shoppers will spend just as much money in the virtual realm as in brick-and-mortar stores
* Using safe Internet connections, being aware of fake deals will help shoppers avoid disappointment
End of year bargains – this is the time of year when retail sales go through the roof. According to a recent study by Deloitte, more people than ever before will hunt for deals and shop online this festive season, when total holiday sales globally are projected to reach as much as $1 trillion.
In another historic milestone, shoppers will spend just as much money in the virtual realm as in brick-and-mortar stores this festive season. With the UAE home to a burgeoning e-commerce market, the surge in online sales leaves consumers vulnerable to various cyberattacks.
Use a safe connection
Not every internet connection is secure enough to be used for online payments. Public Wi-Fi available in a market is not necessarily the best of options for shopping. A safer alternative is to access your favorite e-shop via your personal data plan.
Protect your devices
Use a trustworthy device – be it your computer, tablet or smartphone – as it is much easier for you to spot any irregularities in its behavior. Also, keep your operating system and software up-to-date, to avoid unpatched vulnerabilities that could potentially be misused. Last but not least, install a reliable security solution with multiple protective layers and ideally one that can also offer protection for your e-banking and online payments.
Also read: How my fridge broke the Internet
Be wary of fake deals
If you receive a festive shopping offer that seems too good to be true, there is a good chance it really is. Fake deals delivered to your inbox are common during the end-of-year season and are used to lure victims onto fake websites which harvest sensitive information (such as credit card numbers) or login credentials. To stay away from trouble, access e-shops of your choice by typing the correct URL directly into the browser bar.
Always check the URL
If possible, opt for respected and trustworthy brands that offer a secure shopping environment and can help you solve possible issues. Even then, never let your guard down even when you see a well-known brand as fraudsters can create fake websites that look almost identical to their original counterparts.
To avoid fake sites, keep a watchful eye on the URL as fakes are easily identifiable by their Internet addresses being different to the official pages they are mimicking.
Use credit card or secure payment services
Making a purchase online is safer with a credit card or secure online payment service, as this doesn’t involve any of the money you keep in your checking or savings account. Even in the unfortunate case of a fraudulent transaction, the damage can be partially accounted for by the bank or the service.
Many of the above mentioned points also apply to online banking transactions.
(By Ondrej Kubovic, IT Security Specialist at Bratislava, Slovakia-based anti- virus firm ESET)