Cyber Security Shopping Tips

Senior couple doing shopping on internetBy Paul Romeo, NYSTEC Information Security Consultant

Being a safe and secure shopper starts with taking security precautions and thinking about the consequences of your actions online. Remember the following tips:

  • Use websites with trusted names and strong reputations. Well-established retailers usually have more robust online security.
  • Use credit cards instead of debit cards. A compromised debit card will enable access to your money, but a compromised credit card will only expose the bank’s money, and the consumer is typically not responsible for purchases they did not make. Just be sure to regularly check your statement and notify your credit card company of any suspicious charges. Whenever possible, use a payment service like PayPal.
  • Look for the “https” URL and the padlock symbol.  The “s” in “https” stands for security. It signals that the site uses encryption.

https-url-padlock-symbol

  • Avoid using public WiFi for online shopping. Public WiFi is easily compromised. In public, you are better off using your cell phone network with WiFi disabled.
  • When in doubt, throw it out. Don’t click on links in emails, texts, or social media posts. Links are the most popular means for cybercriminals to install malware on devices.
  • Make your password a sentence. These days, your password should be more than 15 characters long. Using a remembered sentence mixed with letters, numbers, and symbols is a good way to create a password that’s difficult to crack. Avoid using birthdays or anniversary dates.

Example: #y0uCantH@ckM3!

  • Use different passwords for different accounts. Don’t use the same password twice. If you reuse the same password, hackers need to steal it only once to access all your accounts.
  • Multi-Factor Authentication. Use strong authentication tools. Google and Apple allow two-step verification by sending a one-time PIN to your cell phone coupled with a password while logging in.
  • If possible, use a separate computer for online shopping and banking. Most viruses and malware are transmitted through casual web browsing. If possible, use one computer or device for web surfing, email, and social networking, and a different computer for online banking and shopping.

Link: On the Importance of Passwords

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Cyberattacks are a fact of life in the digital world. If you don’t have a strong, unique password, your personal information—including username, email address, and password—could be exposed online.

Find out more about “Why Strong, Unique Passwords Matter” in this article from Thomas F. Duffy, senior vice president of Operations at the Center for Internet Security (CIS).

Disclaimer: The link to this content is provided because it has information that may be useful. NYSTEC does not warrant the accuracy of any information contained in the link and neither endorses nor intends to promote the advertising of the resources listed therein. The opinions and statements contained in such resources are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of NYSTEC.