Hackers vs. Consumers: 6 Best Practices for Safe Online Holiday Shopping

by Sarah Harvey / November 20th, 2018

Best Practices for Safe Online Holiday Shopping

While businesses are gearing up for the busiest shopping season of the year and consumers are anxiously awaiting the best online deals, malicious hackers will be prepping to get their hands on valuables as well. This makes it increasingly important that consumers practice due diligence while online shopping. Clicking on random links, buying products from unsecure websites, and inputting personally identifiable information where it’s unneeded will put them at greater risk for their information to be compromised.

What are best practices for online holiday shopping? Cyber Monday is one of the heaviest online shopping days of the year, while Thanksgiving and Black Friday will continue to be leading online shopping days as well. What does this mean for consumers? Cybersecurity is going to be a key concern during the online holiday shopping season as consumers increasingly move toward shopping online, especially on mobile devices. We suggest following these six steps to ensure safe online holiday shopping.

1. Limit Personally Identifiable Information

When signing up for email lists, promotional discounts, and store accounts, be sure that you’re only providing companies with the least amount of information necessary. Many online store accounts require a first name and email address, but they might also have fields for last name, age, date of birth, or phone number. If these are not required, don’t provide them. This only makes it easier for malicious hackers to learn more about individuals and potentially wreak havoc on them.

2. Use Secure Websites

Shopping on unsecure websites is a major way that malicious hackers can steal your personally identifiable information. Because of this, you need to be cognizant of the websites you’re using. Does the website use HTTPS in the URL? Websites that use HTTPS encrypt the data transferred between your browser and the website you’re using. This keeps your data confidential from malicious hackers and will prevent hackers from modifying your data without your knowledge.

3. Stay Off Public WiFi

While it’s tempting to connect to public WiFi while online shopping – perhaps to make a purchase or download a coupon – it can put your personal data at greater risk. Public WiFi is generally not password protected and cannot protect your information from malicious hackers. Malicious hackers often utilize public WiFi, especially in crowded areas like airports and malls, that consumers are likely to automatically connect to. Instead of using public WiFi, opt to use your personal hotspot.

4. Differentiate Your Passwords

It’s critical for consumers to remember to utilize various passwords, especially during the holiday season. Using the same password for email, store accounts, and bank accounts could increase the likelihood of being hacked.

5. Think Before You Click

As the retail industry booms during the holiday season, consumers must be aware of suspicious links. Links in emails or on social media advertisements can be a form of social engineering and leave consumes vulnerable for a phishing attack. Using caution before clicking on links is paramount for safe online holiday shopping.

6. Monitor Your Payment Cards

As a final form of due diligence, monitoring your credit and debit cards for suspicious activities is crucial during the holiday season. While you can implement as many best practices for protecting your personal data as possible, there are no guarantees that a cunning malicious hacker hasn’t already compromised your data. You should sign up for text or email notifications if your bank offers them. By regularly monitoring your credit and debit cards, you’ll be more likely to identify and alert your bank about suspicious activity in a timely manner.

Don’t let malicious hackers make your holiday shopping experience more stressful. Make sure you’re implementing these six best practices for safe online holiday shopping. You can never be too vigilant in protecting your personal data.

More Resources

When Will it Happen to You? Top Cybersecurity Attacks You Could Face

What is Cybersecurity?

5 Things The Grinch Teaches Us About Information Security