Protecting Your Data While Online Shopping During the Holidays

Every year during the holiday season, millions of Americans flock to popular retail websites like Amazon, Target, and Walmart to purchase gifts for friends, family members, and themselves. With all that shopping you may be exposing yourself to major risks! Protecting your data while online shopping might not be at the front of your mind, but it should be.

You might think that online retailers are safe – they have their own security teams who monitor their networks and websites for any potential threats, right? Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. In fact, cybercriminals often target major retail websites during the holiday season because they know that there will be a lot of traffic and that shoppers will be more likely to make impulsive purchases.

So what can you do to increase cybersecurity best practices and make sure you don’t become a cybercriminal’s next victim? Here are a few tips:

Always Use a Strong Password

When creating a password, make sure it’s something that is difficult to guess and that includes a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols.  Don’t use words that can be found in the dictionary or something that is easily associated with you – example: your birth date, phone number, address, etc.

When it comes to passwords, don’t reuse them! If a cybercriminal manages to get one of your passwords they have access to all of your accounts that share that password, which means they have the potential to do a lot of damage.

When Using Public Wi-Fi, Be Cautious

While it’s easy to assume that public networks aren’t safe because they’re shared by many people, cybercriminals can create fake networks that look like the real thing to trick unsuspecting victims into connecting. 

So, before you connect to a public Wi-Fi network, make sure to verify that it is legitimate and remember that you should never enter sensitive information like passwords or credit card numbers while connected to one.

Turn on Two-Factor Authentication

Two-factor authentication (2FA) is a security feature that requires more than one verification step before granting access to your account.  Most major websites, including Amazon and Walmart, offer 2FA as an optional security feature. 

For example, after you enter your username and password, you may be prompted to enter a code that is sent to your phone or email address. You can turn on 2FA for many websites by using the Google Authenticator app or an SMS message.

Use Anti-Malware and VPNs

Anti-malware software is a type of software that helps protect your computer from malware infections. Malware is a term used to describe a wide range of malicious software including viruses, spyware, and trojans. VPNs (virtual private networks) are another great way to help keep yourself safe online. VPNs create an encrypted tunnel between your device and the VPN server, which helps protect your data from being intercepted by third-parties.

Employ SSO

Single sign-on (SSO) is a security feature that helps you sign into multiple accounts using one set of credentials. You can use SSO to access your email, e-commerce sites, social media profiles – pretty much all the accounts you have online. 

There are a few different ways to set up SSO but the most common is by using an SSO provider. An SSO provider is a company that manages your usernames and passwords for you and allows you to log into all of your accounts with one click.

Take Action If Your Account is Compromised

If you think that your account has been compromised, take action right away! Change your password, enable 2FA, and scan your computer for malware. You should also contact the website or service immediately to let them know what’s going on.

Use Caution When Shopping Online During the Holidays

While online shopping can be a convenient and fun way to find deals and purchase gifts, it also has its downfalls. So, when you’re browsing your favorite websites this holiday season keep in mind that cybercriminals are out there lurking for their next victim!

Stay safe online and when opening emails with holiday deals!