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Cyber Security and Online Shopping

Apr 11th 2011 at 11:53 PM


With the popularity of online shopping today, the importance of

cyber security becomes essential to everyone. Shopping, even

in the real world, involves money and where there is money,

there go the criminals. And since much shopping is now

happening in cyber space, these criminals lost no time in

following the money trail targeting online shoppers.


Online shopping became fashionable when people discovered

one is free from stress and fatigue caused by crowds and

traffic. There is also the convenience of searching whatever it

is you want from your home, at your most convenient time, and

paying for it without waiting in line. All of these with just a few

click of a mouse.


However, the Internet is also a convenient place for cyber

criminals as well. They target the online shoppers, fraudulently

obtaining information they can use for their own financial

gains. These criminals use the three most common ways in

attacking the online shoppers.


Unprotected computers:


Unprotected computers are easy target for viruses and other

malicious codes used by cyber criminals to gain access to the

information inside it. On the other end, online vendors have to

protect their computers, too, against attackers who may

access their customer databases.


Fake sites and email messages:


In the virtual online world, a site (or an online store) can be

faked by these criminals, with no one the wiser. These fake

sites mimic the legitimate ones and inherit the business, at

least until they are caught or noticed.


Charities had been misrepresented before, especially during

natural disasters or holiday seasons where people pour in

donation money and aid. Most often, though, these attackers

collect information for their own illegal use.


Cyber safety measures:


Maintaining an up-to-date anti-virus program, a firewall and

anti-spyware is always the three-pronged first line of defense

in cyber security. They protect you against viruses and Trojan

horses that may steal or modify your data and make your

computer vulnerable. Spyware may also give the attackers

access to your data.


Updated browser:


Browsers are the gateway between your computer and the

Internet. They must be updated first. Also, open the option of

automatic updates to your computer so that the operating

programs and utilities are up to date.


It is likewise important to check the default settings of your

computer and apply the highest level of security. This will

preempt the attackers to use default setting of the programs.

This applies primarily to browsers, email clients, etc. because

these are the connectors to the Internet.


Reputable vendors:


This is where care should be taken because cyber criminals

are very good at mimicking the sites of legitimate vendors and

make it appear genuine. You need to verify their legitimacy

before supplying any information. Keep the phone numbers

and the physical addresses of these vendors which you can

use in case of problems.


Security features and private policies:


As always, passwords and other security features add

protection, if correctly used. Check the site’s privacy policy

before giving out personal or financial information. You have to

understand how your information are stored and used.


Encrypted information:


Make sure the information you give out are encrypted. To

check if it is, see if it includes a URL that begins with "https:"

instead of "http:" and a padlock icon. If the padlock is closed,

the information is encrypted. Know where the padlock icon is

located in your favorite browser because some attackers use

fake padlock icons to trick users.


Use your credit card:


Credit card charges have laws that limit your liability in case of

fraud. This may not be the case for your debit card. Because

debit cards draw money directly from your bank account,

unauthorized withdrawals could leave you penniless. Needless

to say, a record of your purchases should be kept aside.


Report immediately any discrepancy:


Shopping online is truly a time-saving, hassle-free, and fun

way of buying whatever you want on the Internet. The

presence of the ubiquitous cyber criminals stalking at every

cyber corner necessitates the need of cyber security as well.


It is everyone’s responsibility.

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