Remember the days when consumers waited in line for hours to get the latest product or get the best sale? Or perhaps you’ve experienced it yourself?
While physical shopping still has its irresistible charm, shopping online has become a new normal in this digital age. With just a click of a button, users get access to millions of products sold by local, national, and international retailers. Why go through the hassle of traveling and going to a physical store when everything is on your computer or phone?
Technology and online shopping have opened up people to a whole new world. This no one can deny. However, there are many online shopping dangers many users aren’t aware of or overlook. Below, we discuss further the risks and scams of shopping online.
The Dangers of Online Shopping
Like other online activities, online shopping can be as risky. If you’re not cautious, you could expose your personal data including your credit card number, full name, home address, and more. Be a step ahead of these cyber criminals by learning more about the methods they use.
Masked or fake sites have become rampant since online shopping increased in popularity. To lure more victims, cybercriminals copy legitimate sites – from the brand name to the logo to the overall interface. They then use bogus sales methods to trick visitors into buying counterfeit products or paying for something that doesn’t exist.
Session hijacking, also referred to as cookie hijacking, is a cyber-attack where a hacker manages to take over a user’s access to their account or a certain site. Banking websites, online stores, and popular websites with connected servers are the ideal targets of session hijackers. This is because they can easily blend and hide their presence through the high traffic happening on the websites.
E-skimming is the electronic version of traditional card skimming that thieves pull off on automated teller machines (ATMs). In this attack, malicious codes are planted on website pages, usually on the checkout page, to acquire payment details, including credit card number, bank account name, card expiration date, and PIN.
Online shoppers are susceptible to data breaches where buyers are required to create accounts to fully access the site’s features and services. When financial transactions are conducted on a website, it makes them a hot target of cybercriminals. These attackers usually use malware to hack such accounts.
Stolen Personal Identifiable Information (PII)
Then, of course, personal information can be exposed during online shopping when users are not careful enough. Once your personally identifiable information (PII) falls into the wrong hands, you could end up being a victim of identity theft.
Online Shopping Safety Precautions
Having an idea about the dangers of online shopping could greatly help you in preparing and protecting yourself. To further help you, we’ve listed below some online shopping safety measures you can take.
Set Strong Account Passwords
Use complex and strong passwords for all online accounts, including those on shopping websites. If available, utilize 2-factor or multi-factor authentication. Regularly change your passwords and never reuse them for multiple online accounts. Also, never share your passwords with anyone and store them in a secure place.
Utilize Private Wi-Fi Connections
When you are online shopping, always use a private Wi-Fi connection (not public). By doing this, you will protect your device from being hacked or spied on. Also, never fall for the convenience of the “Remember Me” or “Save Your Information” web browser features, as this can be easily taken advantage of by cybercriminals.
Thoroughly Look At The Retail Website
Before purchasing anything from a website, do some investigating to ensure it is real and legitimate. Some things to look for in a legitimate website include:
- That the website URL has “HTTPS” and not “HTTP”.
- The site has proper grammar.
- The website has real contact information and social media icons linking to the official accounts.
You may also want to search for customer reviews to see if the retailer is reliable.
Be Mindful of the Information You Share
While cookies and cache are usually required for a site to function properly as programmed, mind the permissions you give. Shopping sites usually ask for your name, contact information, address, and payment details. Other than these, never give out confidential data that isn’t needed such as your social security number.
Use An Antivirus Program On Your Devices
To protect your devices from any online intruders, use an antivirus program. These programs will stop and quarantine anything threatening your device including viruses, spyware, and more.
Shopping sites, like most online platforms, have their fair share of advantages and disadvantages. No matter how reputable an online site is, it’s not exempted from digital risks. Hence, you must take the necessary precautionary steps.