7 Online Shopping Security Threats and How to Avoid Them

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Online shopping is the dominant and most convenient way to buy consumer items. Far from the days of having to run off to grab money from your Space Coast Credit Union so you can head to the closest mall, once you have a smartphone or PC and a reliable internet connection, you can request anything from the comfort of your home. Unfortunately, buying items online has also come with drawbacks associated with cybercriminals stripping shoppers of their hard-earned money and stealing their identity. However, that does not mean ditching online shopping altogether. It means taking some precautions to avoid falling prey to these attackers. Below are some common threats cybercriminals pose in online shopping and measures you should take to prevent them. 

  1. Adware

In most cases, when you’re browsing online, you’ve probably come across unsolicited pop-ups on your screen. These are known as adware which simply means advertising software meant to generate revenue for the owner. Nothing seems suspicious this far. 

However, cybercriminals are now using pop-up ads and encrypting them with malware to lure you into certain websites where they launch attacks. Going to these websites exposes your personal information, including credit card details.  

  1. Bogus Online Vendors

Cybercriminals create sham e-commerce sites with the intent of stealing your information and money. These fake vendors will advertise items online but will never make deliveries. The most common bait that fake online vendors use includes enticing promotional offers on popular social media platforms to lure you to their sites, where they eventually harvest your card information. 

  1. Unencrypted Data

Data encryption has become a crucial web practice to keep users’ data secure on every visit. Websites with data encryption secure your sensitive data like credit card details. However, the case might be different when you visit sites that do not encrypt users’ data. Most of these sites operate on outdated protocols and certificates, making them vulnerable to cyber-attacks. One of the easiest ways to identify insecure sites is to check their URL. If it starts with HTTP and not HTTPS, that’s a red flag. Such websites could expose your information to third parties and fraudsters.  

  1. Unsecured Wi-Fi

It isn’t a good idea to use unsecured Wi-Fi for online shopping as you expose your information across networks without proper security. Using public Wi-Fi creates an opportunity for cybercriminals to collect your data as it transmits between you and the connection point. This way, the hackers can access your personal information, including email addresses and login credentials. 

  1. Identity Theft

Identity theft is one of the most common security risks associated with online shopping. Cybercriminals target unsuspecting online shoppers by hacking into popular websites and stealing personal information. Later, they use the information to impersonate, make unauthorized purchases, or sell your personal information online.

  1. Data Breaches

A data breach is simply unauthorized access to information when you make online transactions. You risk exposing your information whenever you enter personal information into websites. Although it’s the online store owner’s responsibility to keep your information secure, you need to be extra cautious whenever you are asked to enter personal details. 

  1. Trojan Horses

The Trojan Horses security threat is among the easiest ways attackers can swipe sensitive information from your device. Trojan Horses is a type of malware that conceals its actual content to fool you into thinking it’s a harmless file. 

How to Avoid Online Shopping Security Threats

The first step in protecting yourself while shopping online is to acknowledge the presence of cybercriminals. This way, you remain conscious that there’re people who thrive on human error and network vulnerabilities. Below are other steps to avoid security threats.

Use Powerful Anti-Malware/Antivirus Software

Installing a trustworthy anti-virus and antimalware will prevent hackers from injecting malware into your device. Such software will detect malicious sites and activities and prevent you from logging in. 

Use Virtual Private Network (VPN)

Using a VPN whenever you shop online will keep you protected on public networks. An effective VPN encrypts your internet traffic and disguises your identity online, making it hard for cybercriminals to track your activities or steal credentials. 

Avoid Using Debit Cards

Credit cards are considered safer for online shopping due to their exceptional consumer protection. It would be easy to report a hacking activity and avoid unnecessary costs when hackers steal your card details or make unauthorized purchases. 

Avoid Unsecured Websites

Ensure you only transact with a website that protects your information. Otherwise, hackers will access your credit card and personal information and probably make unauthorized transactions. Only use websites whose URL has a padlock icon beside it and starts with HTTPS. 

Use Script Blockers

A script blocker extension provides an extra security layer for your browser. The extension blocks harmful and unnecessary scripts such as the Trojan Virus on every online store you visit. With a script blocker, you ward off hackers from taking advantage of exploitation scripts. 

Since online fraud isn’t expected to stop soon, it would be wise to protect yourself to avoid dangers and losses when you shop online. Implement cultivating security measures the next time you shop online by focusing on the products and the cyber threats.  

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