Online Shopping: More Dangerous Than You Thought?

Online Shopping: More Dangerous Than You Thought?

There are many online threats on the internet that are on the rise. Identity thefts and online fraud are currently the biggest ones, and they are on the constant rise. However, it would seem that the majority of the internet users either aren’t aware of them, or they aren’t taking them seriously enough.

Many still hold to that popular opinion that something like that can’t possibly happen to them. And while they are thinking that, fraudsters and hackers are coming up with new techniques and methods to use against them.

According to the National Privacy Test, which is one of the ongoing surveys, up to one-third of internet users believe that using the public network is safe. They think that signing into them and accessing their emails, bank accounts, social media and alike is completely safe. Actually, it is quite the opposite, and there are only a few things that you can do that would be more dangerous to your privacy and security.

What did the survey find out?

Many confirmed that entering your bank account while connected to a public network is not safe, and less than 2% believe otherwise. However, when it comes to entering those same credentials while you are shopping online, a lot of people were changing their opinion. In fact, up to 23% think that doing this is perfectly safe on a public hot spot.

This shows that the awareness of online threats and how they work is still very low. Because they don’t know about it, they are open to cyber criminals that are just sitting in wait and looking for easy targets.

Security of public networks is either unknown or completely non-existant for the most part. Because of this, even those with basic hacking skills can break into your device and steal your data. But it gets even worse than that, and there have been a lot of reports of hackers setting up these hotspots themselves. They are hoping that unawareness of the danger will bring them new victims. Most of the time, this works in their favor.

According to another research, online merchants will spend over $9 billion per year for the new fraud-detection methods by 2020. This is necessary since the number of identity theft victims has gone up from 13.1 million in 2015 to 15.4 million in 2016.

As for the online fraud, it mostly happens when people don’t watch out when it comes to their activities online. This includes using weak passwords that are easy to guess, using unsafe networks for online transactions, and even entering their credentials in spam sites.

So, how can you avoid losing your credentials, escape identity theft, or see through scams? Well, the key is to know and recognize the danger. So, here are some tips and rules that you might want to start following from now on.

Rules to avoid fraud online

Use HTTPS

Whenever you are planning to buy something from a website, always make sure that it uses HTTPS instead of HTTP. That way, your activities on the site will have encryption to protect them, which includes your credentials too. If you install a special extension by the name of HTTPS Everywhere, it will automatically force your browser to use this version of the websites that you visit.

Stay vigilant

Don’t just blindly provide any information that the website asks you for. There is certain information that these websites don’t need, and that the real shopping sites won’t even ask. Your Social Service number is one of them, and if the site insists that you enter it, it is probably some sort of scam.

That goes for every site, not only for the shopping ones. Always watch out when it comes to sharing personal info, and never reveal something that the site doesn’t need.

Don’t use public networks

Using public networks is the most dangerous thing you can do. The chances of endangering your personal data are enormous, and whatever it is that you must do is simply not worth that risk. Hackers are often lurking on them and just waiting for someone who would connect. The days when they had to steal your phone in order to hack it are long gone, and all they need now is for you to connect to an unsecured WiFi.

This goes for all of them – restaurant networks, networks in parks, and even those in hotels are not safe. Many would assume that the network is safe because it has a password protection. It is not, and as long as it is publically accessible, it is as dangerous as it can get. It is even worse if it doesn’t have a password. Some of them might be set up by the hacker himself who is basically inviting you to connect and hand over your personal info. Avoid them whenever you can.

Use a VPN

Using a VPN is the best way to protect yourself, both at home, as well as in public. These are special tools that serve to protect your entire connection. You can use them on your phone, desktop, laptop, and pretty much any other device or system.

They protect you by adding several security layers to your connection. One of them is a special tunnel that makes a shield around your data so that nobody can see what you are doing. Next, we have encryption, that will make all of your data unusable, even if someone manages to collect some of it. Finally, there are server networks that you can connect and replace your true IP address with a fake one.

When you combine these methods, you get the best possible protection for your device, as well as for the data on it. It can even protect you from hackers, malware, ISPs, or government agencies. The best one for you to use is TorGuard, which is also one of the most popular ones. You will have to pay for it, but the price is only around $10 per month, which makes it pretty affordable.

Here are some other good options:

Multi-platform Compatible
256-AES Encryption
Website Rating 9.9 8.9 8.1
24/7 Live Chat
Dedicated IP Support Works W/ Netflix
Has Mobile App + PC / Mac Support
Works Well in China
Visit VPN Provider Visit TorGuard Visit IPvanish Visit PIA

Use strong passwords

A lot of the time, the weak password is the reason why people use their data, money or even identity. If your password is weak and easy to guess, hackers will exploit that. Make their jobs harder by choosing a strong password, or by using a password manager to do it for you.

There are many password managers for you to choose from. They will both think of a password for you, as well as remember it and let you log in automatically. And if you decide to set up a password manually, then make it a strong one. Combine letters, numbers, symbols, and anything else that your keyboard has to offer. You can even use a passphrase, which you can make by combining several words that don’t have a connection to each other.

Basically, you don’t want your password to become easy to guess. Instead, use words that don’t make sense in that particular order. Another good method is to pick a sentence that you will easily remember. Use the first letter of each word as your password. It can be a line from a song that you are fond of, or anything else that you will remember, but others won’t guess.

Conclusion

Your online safety is important, and more than you may think. In this day and age, information is all that someone needs in order to steal from us. All of our money is accessible online, as well as the majority of our personal information.

Do not allow someone to access this and use it against you. Protect yourself with strong passwords, VPNs, and similar methods. Also, avoid using public WiFi whenever you can. And, if you are ever in a situation when you have to use one, make sure that you have your VPN up and running. It won’t make it 100% safe, but it will improve your chances of leaving the network without your data stolen.

Also, make sure to delete that network afterward, so that your phone wouldn’t connect in the future by itself. You can also prevent this by turning off your phone’s WiFi when you leave your house. All of these methods can help you, but only if you choose to apply them.

Ali is a freelance journalist with 5 years of experience in web journalism and marketing. He contributes to various online publications. With a master degree, now he combines his passions for writing about internet security and technology. When he is not working, he loves traveling and playing games.

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