How to: Online Shopping With Confidence

These days, online shopping is becoming more often than not the go-to method for shopping for virtually anything.

Not only is it convenient that you can shop right from the comfort of your couch, but you can look up the best options around the world for whatever you’re interested in, just to make sure you’re getting the best price.

Of course, you also get to skip the crowds and long lines if you’re shopping during the holiday season.

Even though shopping online is getting much more common-place, it’s important not to get too comfortable.

There is a lot more personal and financial information involved when you’re shopping as opposed to when you’re only browsing the news, for example.

So, what should you do when shopping to ensure you’re doing it safely?

Don’t shop on public WiFi

I know it’s tempting to get a bit of shopping done while you have a few minutes of free WiFi while you’re sipping on your morning coffee at the coffee shop, however, this could put you at risk.

It’s easy for others to snoop on your traffic, capture your credit card number and even your passwords. Even if you think you’re using a secure connection.

Don’t shop on insecure websites

Any time you’re entering a credit card number or any other sensitive information, it’s always good to ensure you’re sending it over a secure connection. That way, anyone who is snooping on you can’t actually see the information you’re sending.

How do you do that? By first checking in the address bar (that’s the box you enter the website address you want to go to) that https:// comes before the address of the site you’re visiting.

Second check if there is a green lock to the left of the address bar or near the bottom of your browser (the actual placement depends on your browser).

Thirdly – and this is an important step – ensure that the whole website URL after the https:// is exactly what you are expecting, and it isn’t misspelled. It’s become much easier for people to register dubious domain names that look like the original but are in fact fake website and have them be legitimately secure.

Keep an eye out for scams

if the deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.

There are always a large number of scam sites out there, and they seem to always intensify around major shopping holidays around the world.

Don’t “save your info for later”

If the website you are shopping on gives you the option to save your credit card number or other personal information for later, it might be best to decline.

Why? Because this means the website has your information on file. If they happen to be breached for whatever reason, there is a good chance your credit card number or other information could be compromised as well.

This can become quite an inconvenient. Especially if you don’t find out about the breach for a while.

Watch your email

During all of the big shopping seasons, spammers like to take advantage and send malicious emails and texts that appear to be coming from somewhere you may have made a purchase in order to steal your information or infect your machine.

Be smart and if there is any doubt about the email or text, don’t trust it and go directly to the real website instead.

Also, if the email you received is from a website you normally buy things from, consider whether this is a normal email you’d expect from them. If not, it might be a scam.

For more tips on detecting phishing, click here

Stick to the familiar spots

Just like other industries, the online retailing industry isn’t immune to phishing websites being set up to lure you into providing your personal information. Stick to shopping on websites you know are reputable and can trust.

This trust also goes farther than just being confident that they’ll deliver you the product you purchased.
Check their terms of service and privacy policy to see if they are also selling or aggregating your personal information after your purchase.

If you want to branch out, check them out

If you must use a new shopping website before you make a purchase or hand over any information be sure to check out the website and company.

Find ratings and reviews that you know you can trust. Do other people like them? Are there any reputable reviews who did receive what they ordered? How was their experience?

Do they have terms of service, privacy and return policies? Check if these raise any red flags.

All in all, online shopping can save you tons of time and even provide more selection and variety. However, there are those out there who would like nothing more than to take advantage of your comfort with shopping online to con you into handing over your hard earned money or your personal information.

That shouldn’t cause any stress, though. With a little due diligence and by being careful with how and where you shop, you can shop with the confidence that not only did you get a great deal, but you did it while protecting your information and your wallet.

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10 Tips for Being Back to School Cyber Secure

Back to school is almost here!

 

You know that that means – friends, textbooks, and late night study sessions, to start.

 

But did you also know It also means more devices, new accounts, and even more screen time?

 

Online security may not be the first thing you think of when it comes to back to school. However, with more students carrying laptops and more tech finding its way into the classroom, it’s becoming even more important to review how we protect the digital lives of ourselves and our families.

 

Even if you or your family aren’t heading to grade school or college, the beginning of a new school year is a great time for a cybersecurity refresher for the whole family. A refresher will make extra sure you’re still being cyber secure in your current digital lives and with all those extra devices and accounts you’ve collected so far this year.

 

To help you with that refresher, below are some tips to get you and your family ready for the school year.

 

Ensure your computer and devices have updated security software

The more out-dated software you have, the more holes available for viruses, malware, and other unfriendly things have to compromise your computer and devices.

 

Ensure that you’ve updated all the software on your computer and all your devices. This includes not just their operating systems but those apps too!

 

It’s also a good idea here to remove any software and apps that you no longer use and any data that they might contain.

 

Be careful with your purchases

When purchasing new computers, devices and software be wary of used items and online offers that seem too good to be true.

 

Used computers and devices purchased from sites like Kijiji or eBay could possibly come with malware and viruses pre-installed. It’s a good idea to wipe or do a factory reset on any used device you may receive.

 

Online offers that seem too good to be true could be adware, malware, a scam, or a hook to get your personal information.

Backup your stuff

As I am sure you’ve also heard, it’s important to back up all the data you have frequently.

 

What you probably haven’t heard, it’s important to go further than just one backup! Have at least two different copies of your backup on two different media formats. That way you will have no problems recovering if one of the media formats ends up becoming damaged or corrupt.

 

Pro Tip: Create a third copy of your backup. Store that copy in a secure location away from wherever the other two copies of your backups are stored.

 

Then, if something happens to the location the other two copies are stored (fire, flood, hurricane, etc.), you still have a copy to recover from.

 

Lock it up or take it with you

With people moving about on campus all the time, it doesn’t take long for a computer or device to go missing.

 

If you’re going to leave a laptop or device unattended, make sure you lock it up with both a physical lock (such as a laptop lock) and either shut it down or lock the screen.

 

Even better yet, take the laptop or device with you! If you always pack up your laptop and devices and take them with you, then you know they are safe and secure.

 

Encrypt, encrypt, encrypt!

If your computer or devices are stolen or accidentally lost, then all the data on them is lost as well and could potentially be in the hands of someone you wouldn’t want to have it.

 

One way to lower the risk of your data falling into the wrong hands in this situation is to ensure you’ve encrypted everything you have which will support it. This includes your computer, devices, and removable media.

 

Encryption helps because if your devices are encrypted and are lost or stolen, your data can not be easily accessed.

 

One thing important thing to remember here: If you lose your encryption keys, your data is lost forever. It’s important to do your research and understand exactly how encryption works for your devices before you encrypt anything.

 

Create or update the passwords for your computer, devices and online accounts

As I’m sure you’ve been told, using the same password for everything is never a good idea. Take this time to create new, unique passwords for computers, devices, and online accounts.

 

Ensure these passwords are long and strong and complex.

 

Pro Tip: If you have a hard time remembering passwords and shudder at the thought of creating a new one, try using a password manager. It’s a piece of software that securely stores all your passwords, and then all you have to remember is the one password to open the password manager. Simple!

 

Enable multi-factor for everything that supports it

 

More and more online services are starting to support multi-factor authentication. This adds an additional layer of security to your account by requiring you to provide something extra in addition to your username and password to login. Usually, this is in the form of a code or fingerprint.

 

Enabling multi-factor means that even if someone manages to get your username and password, they can’t login to your account without the additional factor, which you still have.

 

However, this doesn’t mean you can become complacent with your passwords… Strong and unique passwords are still important!

 

Watch your shoulders

On crowded campuses and packed buses, be conscious of who is around you and who might be watching your screen.

 

Someone watching your screen over your shoulder is actually called “Shoulder Surfing”.

 

Its when someone watches over your shoulder to steal valuable information from you as it is displayed on your screens such as your passwords, PIN numbers or credit card numbers.

 

The person who now knows tour information can use it for whatever they wish, including stealing your accounts, draining your bank accounts, or stealing your identity.

 

Be careful using public WiFi

Public WiFi should always be treated as an insecure network, just like the Internet no matter who is providing it and no matter whether it is password protected or not. You never know how its configured, and who might be watching or intercepting what you’re doing on that WiFi.

 

It’s a good idea to never access or share any type of personal or financial information over public WiFi. If you can, refrain from also accessing anything that requires a username and password in case your credentials might be intercepted.

 

If you do need to access or share any personal or financial information and you’re out and about or traveling, consider using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) service or a mobile hotspot on your phone, or a standalone hotspot device.

 

Be careful what you share

An innocent selfie or comment can reveal much more than you intended. Be careful not to over-share or share too much personal information.

 

Also, consider what you’ve shared in the past. One piece of personal information might seem innocent enough, but sharing a different piece many times often leads to the formation of a picture of your identity and location.

 

Another good thing to remember is that it’s not always possible to remove things from the Internet. It is entirely possible that a post or share today can affect your reputation tomorrow.

 

How to detect phishing emails

Phishing emails are emails attackers send which are designed to entice you to click a link or download an attachment. Once you’ve clicked or downloaded, one or both of two things can happen. You are enticed to give up personal or financial information, or malware is installed on your computer without your knowledge.

 

Whenever you’re checking your email, remember to check for some of the indications of a phishing email:

  • Fact Check

If the email seems like it is completely out of the blue, it very well might be a scam.

  • Check the “From” Address

Ask yourself: does it make sense that I’d receive an email from this address? Have I received an email from this address before?

  • Bad grammar and spelling

Is the email is full of bad grammar and spelling? Especially if it comes from a business, then this might be a phishing email.

  • A weird link

Phishing emails commonly include a link of some kind. They want to get you to go to another page and enter your details, such as usernames and passwords. If you’re not expecting a link, or it looks weird, don’t click it!

  • A sense of immediate urgency

Spammers want you to act without thinking. They want you to feel like there is no time to do anything but to do as they ask. Take a moment to think if the threat is practical.

  • It sounds too good to be true

If it sounds like it might be too good to be true, it probably is.

  • Trust your gut

If all else fails and you’re not too sure, or if it just feels “off”, then Don’t open the email. Don’t click on any links and don’t open any attachments.

 

Read more about detecting Phishing emails: Email Looking a Little Phishy? 7 Things to Look For…

 

Back to School might be stressful, but staying back to school cyber secure shouldn’t have to be! Putting these tips into practice and creating some new habits are all it takes to be safe and secure all year long.

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