To keep your holiday shopping a joyful occasion, be alert when you shop online this Cyber Monday. With online shopping comes some risks, and this article covers some internet safety tips you can implement to protect yourself.

Identity theft and fraud are always risks online, but never more so than when you’re shopping, because that’s when individuals are putting their personal and financial information out there online in search of the best deal. 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 or Android are also targets. Cyber thieves have identified mobile device-enabled services as the source of valuable personal data, particularly logons to banking and shopping accounts.

Internet safety tips to keep your holiday shopping a joyful occasion

  1. Make sure you are using reputable sites. Using well-known companies that you do business with on a regular basis would be safe. If you surf and find a deal with a company you’ve never heard of, please research the company for diligence.
  2. 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.
  3. Consider using third-party checkout methods like PayPal rather than providing a website with your payment information directly. 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. Use strong passwords for online sites, and use a different password for each site. Make it easy to remember, but hard to guess. Use password management software to keep up with the various passwords for each site. Password vault software is a popular software solution that you can purchase to remember your passwords.
  5. Ensure that your operating system, internet browsers, and other plug-in software, such as Java and Adobe Reader, are up-to-date. Keep your systems patched to close off common holes.
  6. 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.
  7. Be aware of the protections your credit card offers in the case of fraud.
  8. Keep a record of your online transactions and review your credit card statement for unauthorized charges.

The LBMC Information Security team can help you assess your risks and ensure that your security efforts produce the greatest benefit and have the most effective impact.