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The holiday shopping season really gets underway when it's the end of the year and online shopping continues to rise and rise in popularity. People hand over their credit card info to a huge range of different websites and sometimes these details fall into the wrong hands. It is also true that the security for e-commerce and online payments has gotten better, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t still gaps in security and that you don’t have to take care of.
Plus, there’s the added threat of data breaches, which means that even large retailers aren’t always a safe place to do your shopping. Nevertheless, at the end of the year, people are likely to spend several trillions of dollars online.
To make sure you stay safe online during the shopping season, check out the following tips:
Free, public Wi-Fi is especially tempting during the holiday shopping season while you’re shopping on the go. But remember that public Wi-Fi is incredibly unsafe.
A network is only as secure as everyone on it, so if just anybody can hop on a public network, then people with malicious intent can, too. You should be very cautious of jumping on public Wi-Fi, even if it’s password protected. After all, how protected can the corner cafe’s network be if the password is on the wall? But if you must shop over a public network, then make sure to turn on your own Virtual Private Network, which we’ll explain more about in tip 7.
Shop on sites you’re already familiar with or a major retail outlet. That’s not to say major outlets are always safe, or they always offer the best deal, but they’re less likely to rip you off. Just by default.
This is the most obvious tip, in light of all the imitations that are around. For apps: Only download apps from official app stores. And, for websites: Ideally, always type the URL yourself in the address bar so you know you are on the official page. You’ll also notice that most, if not all, official sites use HTTPS to ensure an encrypted connection between you and them. Basics, isn't it? But take care as hackers get smarter and smarter and find new ways to trick you.
As you visit site after site, and especially as you make purchase after purchase, you will be peppered with requests to start new accounts and save your credit card info. We strongly suggest you deny these requests, particularly during holiday shopping. You want to share, save, and store as little personal info as possible on the internet.
Use a credit card with a credit limit. That way, if your payment details are compromised, the damage will be as limited as the card is. Also, make sure to keep track of your credit card statements.
On top of that, we’ll suggest using third-party payments and wallets, like PayPal or Crypto, if they’re offered. That puts another layer of security between you and potential thieves.
Another tip about payments? Use a browser that has a specific banking mode to make sure you stay safe when you do your holiday shopping. Such as Bank Mode from Avast Secure Browser that protects you against the injection of malicious scripts, keystroke logging, and screenshot attempts by third-party apps by creating a virtual desktop. This acts as a clean, safe PC within your real PC.
Look at every holiday-themed and savings-themed email in your inbox with a suspicious eye, and never click on links inside them as they could link to a phishing website. Instead, if you see something in an email that is enticing, follow tip #3 and type the URL into a web browser yourself so you know you go official.
Certain security tools can eliminate the more stressful and tedious aspects of holiday shopping. Using an adblocker will save you the extended loading time and the headache of being constantly inundated with ads, mostly reminding you of previous products you’ve viewed. You’ll be more focused, your pages will load faster, and nobody will follow you for the next few weeks after Christmas with annoying ads wherever you’ll go.
The last tip, using a VPN (Virtual Private Network), is something that a lot of people forget to use when they do their online shopping. It’s a must-have if you use any public Wi-FI network, see tip #1. As it encrypts your information without worrying about thieves getting a hold of your data.
Not only your login credentials, but also your banking details, and your identity stay protected. But make sure you select your preferred country in the VPN application, so the website displays the currency you want to use.
On top of this, with a VPN you sometimes can unlock certain deals in specific geo’s. Flights or hotels can be cheaper if you set it to another country. This not only helps you to have a more secure connection with the websites you are visiting but it also helps you to make sure to find the best price.
Yes, we know these are extensive tips but Avast Secure Browser is here to help and it’s easy to use. Avast’s cybersecurity experts built an advanced privacy-protecting web browser that is packed with useful, state-of-the-art tools and services to keep you safe when shopping and covers most of the tips mentioned above. Avast Secure Browser now also has a built-in VPN, that is easy to use and you have access to the VPN straight from the browser.
By clicking this link you can now get an extra 20% off on the annual and bi-annual VPN subscription price. Enjoy a fast, easy to use and feature-packed private browser with a built-in VPN to make the most of the shopping season and your security and privacy online.
And, last but not least, do not forget to cast your vote on 2021 Noonies Awards!