Why do online shoppers have to take special precautions?

Why do online shoppers have to take special precautions?

The internet offers a convenience that is not available from any other shopping outlet. From the comfort of your home, you can search for items from countless vendors, compare prices with a few simple mouse clicks, and make purchases without waiting in line. However, the internet is also convenient for attackers, giving them multiple ways to access the personal and financial information of unsuspecting shoppers. Attackers who are able to obtain this information may use it for their own financial gain, either by making purchases themselves or by selling the information to someone else.

How do attackers target online shoppers?

There are three common ways that attackers can take advantage of online shoppers:

  • Targeting vulnerable computers – If you do not take steps to protect your computer from viruses or other malicious code, an attacker may be able to gain access to your computer and all of the information on it. It is also important for vendors to protect their computers to prevent attackers from accessing customer databases.
  • Creating fraudulent sites and email messages – Unlike traditional shopping, where you know that a store is actually the store it claims to be, attackers can create malicious websites that appear to be legitimate or email messages that appear to have been sent from a legitimate source. Charities may also be misrepresented in this way, especially after natural disasters or during holiday seasons. Attackers create these malicious sites and email messages to try to convince you to supply personal and financial information.
  • Intercepting insecure transactions – If a vendor does not use encryption, an attacker may be able to intercept your information as it is being transmitted.

How can you protect yourself?

  • Use and maintain anti-virus software, a firewall, and anti-spyware software – Protect yourself against viruses and Trojan horses that may steal or modify the data on your own computer and leave you vulnerable by using anti-virus software and a firewall (see Understanding Anti-Virus Software and Understanding Firewalls for more information). Make sure to keep your virus definitions up to date. Spyware or adware hidden in software programs may also give attackers access to your data, so use a legitimate anti-spyware program to scan your computer and remove any of these files (see Recognizing and Avoiding Spyware for more information).
  • Keep software, particularly your web browser, up to date – Install software updates so that attackers cannot take advantage of known problems or vulnerabilities (see Understanding Patches for more information). Many operating systems offer automatic updates. If this option is available, you should enable it.
  • Evaluate your software’s settings – The default settings of most software enable all available functionality. However, attackers may be able to take advantage of this functionality to access your computer (see Evaluating Your Web Browser’s Security Settings and the paper Securing Your Web Browser for more information). It is especially important to check the settings for software that connects to the internet (browsers, email clients, etc.). Apply the highest level of security available that still gives you the functionality you need.
  • Do business with reputable vendors – Before providing any personal or financial information, make sure that you are interacting with a reputable, established vendor. Some attackers may try to trick you by creating malicious websites that appear to be legitimate, so you should verify the legitimacy before supplying any information (see Avoiding Social Engineering and Phishing Attacks and Understanding Web Site Certificates for more information). Attackers may obtain a site certificate for a malicious website to appear more authentic, so review the certificate information, particularly the “issued to” information. Locate and note phone numbers and physical addresses of vendors in case there is a problem with your transaction or your bill.
  • Take advantage of security features – Passwords and other security features add layers of protection if used appropriately (see Choosing and Protecting Passwords and Supplementing Passwords for more information).
  • Be wary of emails requesting information – Attackers may attempt to gather information by sending emails requesting that you confirm purchase or account information (see Avoiding Social Engineering and Phishing Attacks for more information). Legitimate businesses will not solicit this type of information through email. Do not provide sensitive information through email, and use caution when clicking on links in email messages (see the paper Recognizing and Avoiding Email Scans for more information).
  • Check privacy policies – Before providing personal or financial information, check the website’s privacy policy. Make sure you understand how your information will be stored and used (see Protecting Your Privacy for more information).
  • Make sure your information is being encrypted – Many sites use SSL, or secure sockets layer, to encrypt information. Indications that your information will be encrypted include a URL that begins with “https:” instead of “http:” and a padlock icon. If the padlock is closed, the information is encrypted. The location of the icon varies by browser; for example, it may be to the right of the address bar or at the bottom of the window. Some attackers try to trick users by adding a fake padlock icon, so make sure that the icon is in the appropriate location for your browser.
  • Use a credit card – There are laws to limit your liability for fraudulent credit card charges, and you may not have the same level of protection for your debit card. Additionally, because a debit card draws money directly from your bank account, unauthorized charges could leave you with insufficient funds to pay other bills. You can further minimize damage by using a single credit card with a low credit line for all of your online purchases.
  • Check your statements – Keep a record of your purchases and copies of confirmation pages, and compare them to your bank statements. If there is a discrepancy, report it immediately (see Preventing and Responding to Identity Theft for more information).

Is the Shopping Website Professional Looking??

When you shop online, make sure you are smart about the whole purchasing process-know who you are dealing with, know what you are buying, be confident you will get what you have paid for, and ensure that your account and credit card details are being dealt with safely.

There are many advantages to shopping online-you can shop at any time, you don’t need to worry about parking and your purchases are delivered to your door! Online auctionscan be a lot of fun and can also help you find good deals.

But there are some security traps to watch out for. Use your common sense and some simple steps to ensure your online shopping is as safe as possible.
Top tips

Be wary if the website looks suspicious or unprofessional or makes unrealistic promises. Bargains which look too good to be true often are.
Know what you are buying. Read the description of the product carefully-check the size, colour, value and safety of the product.
Read all the fine print. This includes refund and complaints handling policies.
Check the currency, postage and handling and other charges – there may be extra charges you aren’t aware of. Only pay via a secure web page-one that has a valid digital certificate.
Use a secure payment method such as PayPal, BPay, or your credit card. Avoid money transfers and direct debit, as these can be open to abuse. Never send your bank or credit card details via email.
Always print and keep a copy of the transaction. Keep records of any emails to and from the seller.
Always conduct transactions within the auction website. Avoid private contact or payment directly with buyers or sellers-scammers will often use this ploy to ‘offer a better deal.

Credit Card and Security Tips

    • Shop with a credit card, not a debit card – Credit cards always have better protection and support from the card companies, so just in case something goes wrong, the have the authority to stop/cancel the transaction within some time period. On debit cards however, the money goes as you pay. So, even if you have protection, the money is already gone.

 

    • Use one card for all your online shopping - It is easier to keep track of transactions on one card and you will be able to check your statement easily.

 

    • Use one computer (preferably password locked) for online shopping – When you shop online frequently, use same computer and have a login password enabled on it. It is not just for security from unwary users, but also a protection from some viruses (namely trojans).

 

    • Use newly opened browser for all online shopping or payments – Always close all windows of the browser and open afresh for online shopping. Also do not open multiple tabs for shopping and surfing. For surfing, use another different browser. For example if you use Google chrome for shopping, then for surfing at same time, use Internet explorer or Firefox or Opera.

 

    • Always close the browser window after completing purchase – Even if you have to surf net afterwards, close the browser windows once and then open again. This is very important as you may have noticed that even banks ask you to close window after you log out (it is important to close not just tab but all the browser windows). The explanation for the and previous point lies in the fact that browsers store information on your computers in “cookies”. Reliable sites delete important security information on closing of browser though unimportant personal info may be retained.

 

    • Never click on links in emails – Even if the mail is from someone you know, do not click on links in emails. It can be a potential source of viruses and hence security compromise on your PC. Who can be sure if your known contact’s computer isn’t security compromised.

 

    • Check the site name and URL in the browser address bar – When proceeding to pay for a purchase, always keep an eye on the site name and URL in the address bar of the browser(that is where you type the site URL for going to the site).

 

    • Look for SSL sign/padlock in browser address bar – Before making payment, check for https:// in the address bar URL and for the SSL sign. SSL means data is sent encrypted over the net and only target site can decode it. (When a SSL Digital Certificate is installed on a web site, users can see a padlock icon at the bottom area of the navigator)

 

    • Use a latest and updated browser – You may use any operating system like Windows, Linux (Ubuntu, Fedora etc) or mac but use the newer browsers for online shopping. A new and updated browser will have less security loopholes and better viewer experience too. Avoid using older browsers!

 

    • General Precautions as for any shopping – Last advice, but not the least, as for all shopping, do get a gist of the fine print on the site like shipping details and time, warranty info, replacement policy, money back guarantee terms etc. For this I would suggest you shop online only on reputed sites which are well established and used. These sites invest in infrastructure and security and hence are more suitable for a good shopping experience online.

 

Safely Shopping Online

If you’re like me and millions of other people, you probably shop online.  This almost inevitably means you will transmit your credit card number along with personally identifying information such as your name and address through the internet. This is a prime opportunity for a bad guy to steal your identity without ever having to be near your trash-can, which is is another story for another tip.

Here are a few things to remember when you shop online in order to stay as safe as possible:

  1. Make sure you shop at a reputable online merchant.  Anyone can setup a Web site, and they may offer amazing bargains on products that don’t exist to lure you into divulging your personal information and account numbers.  If you don’t recognize the name of an online merchant, do some research and read reviews before placing an order.  Chances are their amazing deals are amazing for a reason that is of no benefit to you.
  2. If the online merchant doesn’t use SSL or HTTPS to secure your transaction, immediately leave the Web site. You can tell if you are on asecure site by looking at the URL bar – if you see HTTPS, the transaction is encrypted. In some browsers, you’ll also see a lock icon in the lower right-hand corner indicating the session is encrypted.  If you don’t see these, shop elsewhere. Using HTTPS only requires an investment of about $25 by the merchant. If the online merchant you are shopping at can’t be bothered to secure the transmission of your personal information and account numbers, you should find another merchant.
  3. Limit your exposure.  Even if you shop at a reputable site that secures transactions, problems can still arise.  Take advantage of any safety features your credit card company offers.  If you use a Visa card, you can use ShopSafe.  This is completely free and allows you to generate a one-time use credit card number as well as set a spending cap on that number.  Something like this is perfect for online shopping.  When your merchant asks for your credit card number, you generate a one-time use number through ShopSafe (or a similar application) and set the spending limit just above the total for your purchase. Even if this amount were to be intercepted, it would be used once and only for the limit you entered.  This significantly limits the amount of damage someone can do.
  4. NEVER EVER shop online from a public computer.  If the general public has access to a computer, or if multiple people besides you have access to a computer, you never know what they may have done to the computer, or may have unwittingly allowed to happen to the computer.   I’ll repeat it once more: DO NOT shop from a public computer — ever. If you do, you are essentially leaving your credit card, name and address laying out in public for everyone to see.
  5. Before shopping online at work, be sure you understand your company’s policy about such activity.  Odds are that you have signed a consent to monitoring agreement and an appropriate use agreement.  While your company is not likely to try stealing your identity, you could face disciplinary action for shopping online at work.

Online Shopping Sites

There are number of online stores and online retailing sites that offer customers various ways to buy products online with the help of a computer and the internet.

Shopping through electronic commerce is increasing day by day. The reason behind the increase in online shopping: people have busy schedules due to which they do not have time to visit the market for shopping.

Another name for online shopping is “e-shopping”.  Online sites have the ability to deal with B2B (business to business) and B2C (business to customers).  With the help of online stores, customers find it easy to shop.

In order to attract more and more customers, online sites provide heavy discount and gifts for loyal online shoppers. User can save huge amount by shopping online. There are varieties of products available online.

Following are some of the benefits that online sites offer to their customers:

Easy to buy
Free home delivery
Customers can choose to pay price in installments or can make one time payment
Some online sites provide loans to their customers
Give discounts and gifts on some occasions.
Replace and repair guarantees
Customer care available 24*7, in case of any issues

In order to deal with online shopping customers should take care of following things:

First, give some time to find genuine online sites and good prices.
Sites should be user friendly.
Read the payment instruction carefully.
Try to use those sites which take payment on delivery.
Keep the bill of the product in case of replacement or repair.

Online shopping is a boom for the customers. One can save a lot of time by online shopping and if one is lazy to go out and buy some gifts for their dear one, online shopping is best option for them! Online shopping is the simplest and fast way of shopping.

Online Shopping Basic Safety Tips

Online shopping is fast and easy, but it’s still “buyer beware.” Providing your information online can be as safe as providing it to a store your visit in-person, as long as you follow a few simple rules:

  1. Make sure your computer’s security software is up-to-date
  2. Shop well-known brands or sites with which you are familiar
  3. Make sure the site uses a secure check-out – look for https in the url:
    Internet Explorer https: browser lock icon

    Look for the “lock” on Internet Explorer browser; click for info on the site

    Firefox Browser Lock Safety Symbol https

    Find the “lock” symbol in Firefox. Click it to read about the site.

  4. Purchase using your credit card (NEVER YOUR DEBIT CARD!)
  5. If it sounds too good to be true, it’s probably is a scam.  Don’t fall for items that are “too good to pass up” or “once in a lifetime deals”
  6. Understand how the site will use your data and the choices that are available to you regarding its use