Great Tips for Protecting Your Data While Shopping Online

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Don’t let your personal information fall victim to cyber theft.

With the popularity of sites like Amazon, ASOS, and Zappos, it’s no wonder that online shopping is so ubiquitous. Unfortunately, data thieves are also well aware of this fact, and are keen to harvest your personal information for their own nefarious purposes. So it’s in your best interest to learn how to protect yourself and your data while shopping online. There are a few easy steps that computer whizzes and novices alike can take to make sure data retains its privacy.

Get the basics in place, first.

Before you engage in any online shopping, you need to have some basic security measures in place. Your passwords should be complicated and certainly not uniform across programs. Antivirus software should be kept up-to-date. You will also need to learn to spot malicious content in your day-to-day computer activities. Beware of emails with unusual attachments (even if they’re from friends!), and attempts at social engineering. If you share a personal computer, make sure that everyone who uses it is aware of necessary security measures. There are numerous ways that cyber thieves can get a foot in the door, so don’t make it easy. For some extra tips on basic security, check out the Department of Homeland Security website.

Beware of making purchases in public places.

This warning is two-fold, actually. First, avoid making online purchases when connected to a public Wi-Fi. Using your personal data plan or routing your transaction through a VPN are much safer ways to make your purchase. Second, absolutely avoid making purchases on public computers. You risk working on a device that may be subject to lax security and therefore malware, and you risk having the device remembering your information for future use.

What was that about VPNs?

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are essentially an extra layer of data protection. They allow you to transmit data that is encrypted and therefore more resistant to theft. The tricky thing about VPNs, though, is that there are loads of them out there to choose from. Luckily, you can consult the help of professionals that offer reliable product reviews of the top contenders in the market. There’s a great review on Secure Thoughts that covers some of the most popular VPNs out there, and will help direct you to the service that is right for you.

Your browser can help you, too!

There are a few ways to tell if a website is secure or not, as Symantec’s Norton can attest to. But the most obvious tell is that secure websites will have an SSL layer of protection, meaning the website URLs will begin with “https://” rather than just “http://” or something else entirely. Some browsers also make it obvious by adding a little padlock icon on or near the URL bar. Do not enter your personal information into websites that may not be secure.

Proactively monitor your bank statements.

Too many people fail to check their bank statements regularly. This means that any suspicious transactions not flagged by your bank can make it through unchecked, and gives cyber thieves continued access to your funds. You can also check with your bank to find out about any extra security features they offer, such as additional verification measures. If you’re concerned that your bank doesn’t offer the security you’d prefer, consider doing some research
before switching to a new bank.

Following the tips we’ve just described will certainly help you protect your data, but it’s also best practice to keep up-to-date on new ways in which you can protect your personal information. Technology is constantly changing, and cyber attackers are keeping up, too. Be sure to keep up on tech news and to reevaluate your security measures regularly. Don’t let your security measures become outdated!

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