Spikes in cybercrime have made people cautious about what they do online. Online shopping has grown into an influential convenience that is too hard to let go. Its simplicity and cost-effectiveness make it an invaluable aspect of our lives. But people cannot help but wonder whether they are safe to shop online and the risks they are exposed to. The truth is you aren’t. Nevertheless, here are 5 ways to shop safely and cheaply.
Install a VPN
One of the greatest vulnerabilities lies in our very own networks. For a network to function properly in accessing the internet, an IP address is assigned to your device. For someone like me, shopping at home, someone finding my IP would also allow them to find my physical location. While implications of this is scary enough, by identifying the IP address, a hacker could also gain access to the information you share through the network and similar personal data. Imagine sharing your financial details on a shopping site, all while unaware that your IP privacy is compromised. Luckily, installing a premium VPN fixes this issue by securing and encrypting the network and all information, including your IP. This effective shielding of your network is the first step in a safe and secure online shopping experience.
2. Confirm the credibility of the store and vendors
Owing to the lucrative nature of online shopping, there have been a number of scam startups that intend to defraud unsuspecting customers. While the site might seem legit, it becomes quickly unavailable once you make your purchase. Aside from broken trust and loss of money, you also run the risk of being a victim of credit card fraud. This is why you need to conduct proper research on the store and the vendors to get a guarantee of credibility. Online reviews are a great way to start.
3. Check the security credentials of the store
Before entering your personal and financial information on a website, you need to check the website’s security. A secure website should use an HTTPS protocol instead of HTTP. You can view this in the URL. More so, secure online shopping stores usually employ the services of a security company. You should look for a badge of the company on the site’s landing page as proof that the site is secure.
4. Install firewall and antivirus software
With increasing cyber threats, antivirus software developers have increased the scope of function of their software. Most antivirus software now has an internet security function that monitors websites and any threats to your system and personal information. Additionally, firewalls perform similar internet security functions but on a grander scale. For instance, an effective firewall should block any unwanted intrusions into your system, such as attempts by websites to track your location. By installing both firewall and antivirus software, you get round-the-clock internet monitoring and security.
5. Check the network
Before KRACK attacks brought WPA2 vulnerabilities to light, our focus was on unsecured networks. Nevertheless, after this revelation, it is important to emphasize that you should be as wary of secure networks as you are of unsecured networks. Ideally, you should never shop online while on an open and unsecured network since this only increases your risk of exposure. This is more or less like leaving your keys in the ignition and unlocking the door to your car, then walking away and hoping no one steals it. Even then, you should still be cautious, especially when on a secure public network since you could still be exposed. Exposure of this kind is even worse since it gives you a false sense of security and you might lower your guard.
When it comes to your security while shopping online, you should leave nothing to chance. Pull all the stops and then some just to guarantee your digital security. Measures such as installing VPNs, antivirus and firewall software could be the difference between a wonderful shopping experience and a life spent dealing with fraud and identity theft.