It’s that time of the year again. Consumers are flocking to malls and shopping centers to make holiday purchases, except for those people avoiding the crowds and shopping online. Paul Royal, associate director of the Georgia Tech Information Security Center, gives some top tips to how to stay safe online this season.
If you don’t follow best practices, it’s easy to get into trouble online. Attackers are opportunistic – they understand how consumers behave and will exploit risky behavior. With more opportunity for shopping, the holiday season also means more opportunity for attackers to defraud individuals of their money.
One way to avoid becoming a victim is to use trusted shopping aggregators, such as vendors under Google, Amazon and NewEgg, as these companies will take action against vendors who engage in fraudulent behavior. Also, while shopping online, use a trusted web browser such as Google Chrome to minimize your risk.
Consumers should be especially suspicious of emails during the holiday period. If you receive an invoice for a purchase you didn’t make, or a shipping notification for a package you don’t think should be sent to you, don’t click on links in the message. The email could be a part of a ploy used by attackers to infect your computers with malicious software.
To reduce liability in the event of fraud, use a credit card instead of a debit card – this advice applies to both online and in-person purchases. Finally, monitor use of your money – go online, look at recent transactions, and attribute each charge to a purchase you made. Doing so will help you catch any misuse of your financial resources early on.
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