Residential crime tends to spike over the holidays, but you also have to worry about your cyber security, in the form of identity theft, phony charities, and other potential pitfalls of our increasingly online lives. Of course, there is also the real risk of social media “TMI,” as we share our holiday plans (trips, parties, etc.) in ways that draw the eager attention of potential intruders. Here are five tips for safer online shopping – starting today, Cyber Monday.
Watch out, Black Friday! Cyber Monday is nipping at your heels as one of the biggest holiday shopping days. In fact, some estimate that more than 120 million shoppers will do only shopping following Thanksgiving, and particularly on Cyber Monday.
Wow – that’s a huge number of online transactions. And it’s an equally huge opportunity for the criminally inclined to rip you off.
Safety First – Even When Online Shopping
Despite the bargains you're bound to find on your favorite online sites, you need to keep safety on the web in mind. Security experts say that Cyber Monday is as attractive to cybercriminals as it is to shoppers looking to score a deal. Unfortunately, business is booming for cybercriminals. According to the 2012 Norton Cybercrime Report, cybercrime costs $110 billion annually, and claims 556 million victims each year.
Top Five Tips
When doing your holiday shopping this year, don't fall prey to any online shopping scams. Protect yourself from credit card fraud, identity theft or other cybercrime by following these 5 easy tips for safety on the web when online shopping.
- Search for signs of approval. Trust marks, such as the Norton Secured Seal, show the retailer has been verified and the site is likely free from malware. Also, look for URL to change from Http to Https—the "s" on the end for secure—and the color green in your browser address bar to show a secure site. Always look for either of those before entering your personal information when online shopping.
For example, the FrontPoint site shows the “TRUSTe” logo for certified privacy – a mark you can certainly rely on. And yes – when you order online from FrontPoint, you will see the “s” after the “http” when you get to the actual ordering page. But remember, you’ll probably want to speak with a FrontPoint Security Consultant first, to make sure your system is properly customized for your home.
2. Be smart about your password and personal information. When holiday shopping for the first time on a site, you may asked to register, and create a user name and password. When doing the latter, remember: "password" is not an acceptable password. Pay particular attention to the passwords for your email, social networking and online banking accounts, making them as complex and unique as you can. Also, avoid storing your credit card information on retailer websites.
You would be amazed how many people use “Password” when asked to set up an online identity – or JUST a simple variation of their name. You need to be smarter than the cyber thieves!
3. Don't shop on public or unsecure Wi-Fi networks. Tempting as it may be to purchase a product while using a public Wi-Fi network, these hotspots can be virtual playgrounds for cybercriminals. Instead, use a personal VPN or wait until you're on a protected network before purchasing anything online or logging onto your bank website. This was one of the reasons that we put a password on our personal Wi-Fi network at home—so we could feel secure and safe on the web in the comfort of our own home.
4. Avoid spam's hidden surprises. Not all spam is harmless; some spam carries viruses and other malicious threats that may harm your computer. With holiday headlines like "Insane Cyber Monday Deals: 80% off!" or even more subtle but seasonal captions like "Information about your shipped package!," you may be tempted to click, but you'd be wise to junk them instead. Always be cautious of any emails you receive from unknown recipients or that seem just a bit too generous.
And be sure to take care when you receive suspicious offer emails from sources you do trust – it’s entirely possible that they have been hacked, and are spamming you… before they even know it.
5. Be secure on mobile devices, too. Threats on mobile devices are on the rise, and becoming increasingly sophisticated. Also, while holiday shopping for apps, beware that many mobile apps now feature unwanted aggressive advertising known as "madware" or mobile adware. Use a security solution and adware tool for your smartphones, tablets, laptops and home computers to keep you protected, whether you're shopping at home or on the move.
FrontPoint cares about your physical safety and your virtual security – these and other precautions add up to more peace of mind for you. After all, protecting homes and families is our highest priority. We’ll keep on sharing great tips when we find them: it’s our goal to be your resource for crime statistics, burglar behaviors, and the latest technologies to thwart intruders. That’s why FrontPoint is the only alarm company in the country to use safer cellular monitoring on every system we’ve ever sold – and charge less for it. But people also know us for our smarter interactive level of monitoring. Make sure your home is protected: by FrontPoint, the leader in wireless home security, and the #1 ranked alarm company in the US. Here’s to safe online shopping – and Happy Holidays!