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Cyber Monday: Top Five Safe Shopping Tips for Online Holiday Shopping

Published on 11 November 13
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The holidays are right around the corner. It's time to think about what you're going to get your family. More and more people are choosing to shop online, and for good reason. When you hop onto a website like Overstock or Amazon, you can get practically anything your little heart desires. You don't even have to wrap the gifts. Many of these online retailers have gift-wrapping options that are either free or just a few dollars. But cyberspace can also be a dangerous place. Make sure you protect yourself.

Keep Your Mobile Device And Computer Updated

Updated devices are, generally, safer than older, non-updated ones. Make sure you're running the current version of whatever operating system you have. Fortunately, this is easy to do with all of the major brands. Microsoft automatically pushes updates to your computer. So does Apple. But both manufacturers don't force you to install the updates.

Here's where things get sticky. If you have downloaded an update, but not installed it, you could be leaving yourself wide open for a flash or javascript exploit - not good, especially when all you really want to do is buy your grandmother that thing she was raving about last weekend.

Cyber Monday: Top Five Safe Shopping Tips for Online Holiday Shopping - Image 1

Know And Trust Your Online Merchants

While most online merchants are trustworthy, not all of them are. You can usually trust the big boys - Walmart, Amazon, Overstock. These companies are well-known, respected, and have earned trust from millions of customers. But some of the smaller online retailers don't have the name recognition that the big brands do. Should you avoid them?

Not necessarily. With the popularity of social media, it's pretty easy to research a company on Facebook, Google+, Yelp, and other sites. Some of the better companies will be a "Google Trusted Partner." If you see a "Google Trusted Partner" badge on the company's website, it means big G is vouching for them. You can even get free dispute resolution and service guarantees from Google.


Look For Secure Sites

Not every company gets CEH training by TrainACE, and it's impossible to know how well the IT staff is trained in security, but typically you can expect at least a basic layer of security for for e-commerce sites. If you're unsure about whether a company has secured user data, you can always ask customer service about who the site's host is.

In most cases, secure sites use "https" instead of "http" protocols in the URL. This means that the data being sent by you will be encrypted. Aside from that, the more secure companies host their sites with premium hosting companies or have their own internal custom hosting solution.

For example, many banks, health care providers, and financial institutions use Firehost as their choice host. Why? Because that hosting company tailors its hosting specifically to comply with HIPPA and financial regulations. They have multiple layers of security and run active scans on the server to detect malware before it does any damage. Look for this level of security in the companies you do business with.

Password Protect Your Mobile Phone or Device

It's stunning how many people still don't secure their mobile device. Yes, it's a pain in the butt to enter a pass code every time you want to use your phone. Think of it this way: if your phone is stolen or lost, how much better would you feel knowing that a crook isn't accessing sensitive information on your phone?

Pay By Credit Card, Not Debit Card

Credit cards often have stronger anti-fraud provisions than debit cards. If you use a credit card, you're protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act. There are no such protections for debit cards outside of the basic anti-fraud protections associated with bank accounts.

Jamie Smith loves searching the web for the best deals. She enjoys sharing her internet insights with other web shoppers through blogging.

The holidays are right around the corner. It's time to think about what you're going to get your family. More and more people are choosing to shop online, and for good reason. When you hop onto a website like Overstock or Amazon, you can get practically anything your little heart desires. You don't even have to wrap the gifts. Many of these online retailers have gift-wrapping options that are either free or just a few dollars. But cyberspace can also be a dangerous place. Make sure you protect yourself.

Keep Your Mobile Device And Computer Updated

Updated devices are, generally, safer than older, non-updated ones. Make sure you're running the current version of whatever operating system you have. Fortunately, this is easy to do with all of the major brands. Microsoft automatically pushes updates to your computer. So does Apple. But both manufacturers don't force you to install the updates.

Here's where things get sticky. If you have downloaded an update, but not installed it, you could be leaving yourself wide open for a flash or javascript exploit - not good, especially when all you really want to do is buy your grandmother that thing she was raving about last weekend.

Cyber Monday: Top Five Safe Shopping Tips for Online Holiday Shopping - Image 1

Know And Trust Your Online Merchants

While most online merchants are trustworthy, not all of them are. You can usually trust the big boys - Walmart, Amazon, Overstock. These companies are well-known, respected, and have earned trust from millions of customers. But some of the smaller online retailers don't have the name recognition that the big brands do. Should you avoid them?

Not necessarily. With the popularity of social media, it's pretty easy to research a company on Facebook, Google+, Yelp, and other sites. Some of the better companies will be a "Google Trusted Partner." If you see a "Google Trusted Partner" badge on the company's website, it means big G is vouching for them. You can even get free dispute resolution and service guarantees from Google.

Look For Secure Sites

Not every company gets CEH training by TrainACE, and it's impossible to know how well the IT staff is trained in security, but typically you can expect at least a basic layer of security for for e-commerce sites. If you're unsure about whether a company has secured user data, you can always ask customer service about who the site's host is.

In most cases, secure sites use "https" instead of "http" protocols in the URL. This means that the data being sent by you will be encrypted. Aside from that, the more secure companies host their sites with premium hosting companies or have their own internal custom hosting solution.

For example, many banks, health care providers, and financial institutions use Firehost as their choice host. Why? Because that hosting company tailors its hosting specifically to comply with HIPPA and financial regulations. They have multiple layers of security and run active scans on the server to detect malware before it does any damage. Look for this level of security in the companies you do business with.

Password Protect Your Mobile Phone or Device

It's stunning how many people still don't secure their mobile device. Yes, it's a pain in the butt to enter a pass code every time you want to use your phone. Think of it this way: if your phone is stolen or lost, how much better would you feel knowing that a crook isn't accessing sensitive information on your phone?

Pay By Credit Card, Not Debit Card

Credit cards often have stronger anti-fraud provisions than debit cards. If you use a credit card, you're protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act. There are no such protections for debit cards outside of the basic anti-fraud protections associated with bank accounts.

Jamie Smith loves searching the web for the best deals. She enjoys sharing her internet insights with other web shoppers through blogging.

This blog is listed under E-Commerce Community

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