These days, internet safety is much better than it was a couple of years ago. In the past, clicking on a link to a virus could cause your computer to die slowly and painfully. The virus would flood your system with trojans or malware that would steal all of your personal data. In the new world, online shoppers need to focus on staying safe when making payments using secure browsers and passwords to stay ahead of scammers.
The standard Windows virus software can keep your computer safe almost every day. Even if Windows is not installed fully, this software can be accessed, making it difficult to infect your computer with a system-killing virus-like we saw in the past. The vulnerability today is often related to human error. Hackers and scammers want our data – they want your card information, your location information and they want your usage data. These are all details which we eagerly enter into different websites to shop or stream. Each day, we enter valuable information that can easily be stolen by these cybercriminals if we are not careful.
Luckily there are ways to stay safe online and you won’t have to spend a lot of money. Implementing safe online practices will ensure that your data remains where you want it to be, and is safely in your control. That is good news for you and your ISP because even if you use your incognito browser and a VPN, your internet service provider can still see every move.
1. Check for data breaches
Every 40 seconds, there is a cyber-attack somewhere on the internet. Data breaches happen quite often and can have quite serious consequences. Data breaches happen when cybercriminals gain access to a server, or data center, which houses sensitive information, including email addresses, personal information, and even card details. If a data breach occurs within an organization, it means the organization has to act fast to fix the breach and stop it from happening again. You can check online if your email address was involved in any data breaches. If your email comes up, change your passwords immediately to secure your accounts.
2. Keep your PC up-to-date
Yes, it can be annoying that Windows keeps trying to update every time you shut the computer down. Although these are small patches, they can make Windows Defender run at its best and ensure you receive any security updates. With cyber-attacks happening often, software developers work hard to identify and fix any weaknesses in the system to avoid attacks. The developers will rework the code to avoid virus attacks. These updates may include the most recent ways to protect your computer’s health while shopping online.
Next, let’s look at the place where online shopping occurs – your browser. You need to keep your browser up-to-date to ensure your safety online. Your browsers will monitor your browsing and ensure that you only access safe and verified links.
You are generally protected when using a top-rated browser like Google Chrome, all you have to do is make sure you see the lock icon in the navigation bar before you click on the link. This is a sign to show that the website you are on is secure. You can rest assured that your data is safe and secure as long as the icon is visible.
3. Manage your passwords
Passwords are the secret combination that helps to keep hackers out of your accounts, so it’s essential to have strong passwords. Your password should contain at least eight characters, preferably 12, and should include numbers, special characters, and upper and lowercase letters. These challenging combinations make it hard for hackers to work out your password. You should not use the same passwords to log in to online shopping websites from your home, bank, or work computer, as this can lead to easier access for hackers. Rather keep different passwords or use a secure password manager.
4. Sending sensitive information
As we alluded to earlier, most cyber-attacks occur because of human error. Sensitive information should not be sent via email, but should rather be transmitted through secure channels and websites. Emails containing financial or credit card information should not be sent, because if intercepted, they can allow criminals to cause damage. Emails asking for information about purchases or accounts should be avoided as they are likely to be a scam. These emails fall under a scam called phishing, where they get you to enter sensitive information into a fake site, allowing the scammers access to your bank accounts. If you are uncertain, phone the business in question on a number you have previously phoned them on to verify the email.
5. Be vigilant
Safety often comes down to your own actions. Online safety is not something you should take lightly and is something you should spend considerable time on. To disable pop-ups, click the “X” in the upper right corner of your title bar to close them. When making banking or other transactions, avoid using public computers or public wireless networks as these could be insecure. You run the risk that malignant software could get access to your credit card information by placing orders through public computers, so it’s best to wait until you are on a secure internet at home or at your office.
Using temporary account authorizations is another great way to keep your accounts secure. Some credit card companies offer temporary or virtual credit card numbers which allow users to make once-off purchases with a card. This means that no matter what happens, thieves cannot take more money afterward as you can close the virtual card. These methods will allow you to have a safer, more enjoyable, and less expensive online experience.
Lastly, be sure to keep a log of all money entering and leaving your account each day to ensure you are fully aware of your finances. This allows you to spot any suspicious activity before it becomes something malicious. Scammers don’t care about your financial situation or your personal problems and will take any opportunity they can get to steal your money. They also tend to prey on those who are weak and uninformed. Therefore, it’s important to stay safe online and take extra precautions to protect your data in 2021.