Identity theft and fraud are always risks online, but never more so than when you’re shopping.
According to Mark Burnette of LBMC in Brentwood, individuals should be aware of the potential for data theft and selective of where they do their online holiday shopping, and companies should implement safeguards and policies to protect business systems and sensitive data.
Using an outdated browser and clicking on a web page booby-trapped with a hidden virus can turn control of your computer over to an intruder. Online transactions conducted via iPhone, Android, and Windows Smartphones also are targets.
Cyber thieves have identified mobile device-enabled services as the source of valuable personal data, particularly logons to banking and shopping accounts.
Here are some tips to keep your holiday shopping a joyful occasion:
1. Always ensure that a web site is using encryption before transmitting any sensitive information to protect that information in transit. To determine if encryption is used on a site, look for the padlock icon or check the web site address and make sure that it says “https” before the site address.
2. Multi-factor authentication. Configure key accounts for two-step verification, such as Apple, Google, PayPal, FaceBook, and Dropbox. Multi-factor authentication adds an extra layer of protection when your system is accessed remotely. Access is granted only after entering a correct username and password along with a second factor, such as a text message with a sequence of numbers sent to the customer’s personal cell phone.
3. Consider using a payment system such as PayPal. If the company you purchased from gets compromised, your information will be safe because you used PayPal and hackers won’t have access to your sensitive data.
4. Shop reputable online stores. If you’ve never heard of the web site you’re shopping on, do some investigation before providing any of your private information to the site. Using well-known companies that you do business with on a regular basis would be safe.
5. Password selection is important. Use strong passwords for online sites, and use a different password for each site. Use password management software to keep up with the various passwords for each site, such as LastPass, OnePassword, or Dashlane.
6. Keep your systems patched to close off common holes. Ensure that your operating system, Internet browser, and other “plug-in” software such as Java and Adobe Reader have the latest updates and security installments.
7. Watch for cyber scammers sending phishing emails. Be wary of clicking on links to shopping sites or “hot deals” that arrive via e-mail because they may take you to a hacker’s fake site rather than the real shopping site. Do not click links in an email, instead open your web browser and type the site’s address directly into the address bar.
8. Be aware of the protections your credit card offers in the case of fraud.
9. Keep a record of your online transactions and review your credit card statement for unauthorized charges.
Mark Burnette is a Shareholder with LBMC Information Security, LLC.
LBMC is headquartered at the corner of Franklin Road and Maryland Way in Brentwood.