Follow these cybersecurity tips while shopping for this Christmas 2023

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Christmas 2023 is swiftly approaching, and many have already begun their lists of gifts for loved ones this holiday season. While some still adhere to the tradition of in-person store visits for their shopping, a growing number are opting for the convenience of online shopping, which can save both time and money. However, it’s crucial to be aware of cybersecurity best practices to protect yourself from potential cyber threats and scams when shopping online.

Beware of Discounts and Freebies: Many online stores, including those selling furniture and groceries, offer discounts and freebies to attract customers and compete with their rivals. However, be cautious of email links promising extravagant discounts like 80%. These can often be traps designed to defraud and compromise your online security. Avoid clicking on such links as they may lead to malware downloads, potentially damaging your device or transmitting sensitive data to remote servers.

Avoid Impulsive Purchases: Plan your shopping in advance to avoid making hasty last-minute decisions that can lead to financial losses and ruin your gift ideas.

Safeguard Your Personal Information:  Online shopping websites often request sensitive card details, such as CVV, expiry date, and the full 16-digit card number. Be cautious when entering this information on unknown or suspicious websites, as it can result in unauthorized transactions and phishing attacks. Stick to reputable, well-established websites for your online purchases, and consider using the secure HTTPS protocol. If available, enable multi-factor authentication for added security during banking transactions.

Shop on Trusted Websites: When shopping online, prioritize businesses that have been operating for an extended period. These companies are more likely to adhere to current cybersecurity standards and provide secure transaction gateways. Additionally, only make purchases on websites with dedicated customer support.

Verify Encryption and Check for Spelling Mistakes: Hackers often create fraudulent websites that closely mimic legitimate ones in terms of design and interface. However, these fraudulent URLs may contain spelling errors or lack the “https://” symbol. If you notice such discrepancies, it’s advisable to avoid the website and close the browser tab immediately.

Monitor Your Bank Statements: Regularly review your bank statements at least once or twice a week to identify any unauthorized or suspicious transactions. If you notice any discrepancies, report them promptly to your bank or the relevant ombudsman, if available.

Strengthen Your Passwords: When using online banking services, ensure that your account is protected by a strong password. A secure password should be at least 14 characters long and include a combination of alphanumeric characters, as well as 2-3 special characters, with both uppercase and lowercase letters.

Avoid QR Code Scams: During the holiday shopping season, hackers may launch campaigns that promise gifts in exchange for scanning a QR code. These campaigns are often fraudulent and can deplete your bank account. Refrain from scanning QR codes associated with unsolicited offers.

Report Suspicious Websites: If you come across a suspicious website or URL, promptly report it to law enforcement. Your report can help prevent other online users from falling victim to scams.

Document Your Transactions: Maintain detailed records of your online shopping activities, including product details, purchase dates, and delivery dates. This documentation can be invaluable in case of any disputes or issues.

In today’s digital age, staying informed, vigilant, and following these cybersecurity guidelines is essential to safeguarding your online shopping experience from potential threats and cyber-criminals.

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Naveen Goud is a writer at Cybersecurity Insiders covering topics such as Mergers & Acquisitions, Startups, Cyber Attacks, Cloud Security and Mobile Security

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