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How to shop safely online

Jul 11, 2017 · 3 min read

How to shop safely online

Online shopping fraud and identity theft are on the rise. While hackers and fraudsters are polishing new techniques, many online shoppers are still unaware of basic online privacy rules.

National Privacy Test, an ongoing survey supported by NordVPN, has so far shown that as many as one-third of respondents believe that various activities – such as signing into a social media account, reading email, shopping online or checking a bank account – are safe on public WiFi.

Survey findings

Checking a bank account is assumed to be very risky on a public hotspot (less than 2% agree that is safe). However, entering banking credentials to make a purchase online is seen as a lesser risk (23% think it is safe).

This suggests a lack of understanding of just how open to cybercrime users can be on public networks. The security level of such hotspots is often unknown, and anyone with basic hacking skills may gain access to sensitive data of everyone connected.

According to Juniper Research, e-commerce merchants will be spending $9.2 billion annually in fraud-detection by 2020, up 30 percent from current spending. Javelin reported that the number of U.S. identity-theft victims rose to a record 15.4 million last year from 13.1 million in 2015.

Online fraud usually takes place when people are not careful enough with their online activities. They may be using weak passwords, entering credit card information without making sure the website is not a sham, or making online transactions on unsecured hotspots.

Key rules to avoid online fraud

1. https

The first thing you should always check when making an online payment is whether the payment gateway has an https URL. The ‘s’ in the URL means that it is a secure protocol and your data is encrypted properly.

2. Be wary

Being vigilant can help you a lot with the task of shopping online securely. Whenever a website requests for more information than is usually required, like your Social Service number or any other kind of personal information, it usually signals a scam. You should always be cautious before providing your personal or financial details anywhere on the internet.

3. Stay away from public terminals

It cannot be stressed enough how dangerous it is to share your personal or financial information with any website or any person over the internet while using a public internet connection. Public Wi-Fi networks are common hunting grounds for cyber criminals who try to access your personal information and use it for their benefit at your expense. Since public networks often have negligible security, you should avoid them for making online payments. If you must do online transactions while using a public network, you must use a VPN to stay safe.

4. Use a VPN

VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) encrypt Internet traffic on any website. They are the best security mechanism you can employ to make sure your Internet traffic is safe from prying eyes and remains confidential. NordVPN is one of the most advanced VPNs on the market that uses the latest encryption protocols. From the moment a user turns on NordVPN, their Internet data becomes encrypted. It becomes invisible to third party snoopers or hackers and even NordVPN itself. Being based in Panama, which is Internet-friendly country and does not require data storage or reporting, NordVPN keeps no user logs.

5. Stronger Passwords

Perhaps the most basic requirement for any online account setup is using strong passwords. Weak passwords make it simple for hackers to break into your account and cause severe damage. It’s always advised to change passwords in order to stay safe online, and that means having to use a unique password for each site or account. Apps such as 1Password for Families allow a family to share passwords, credit cards, and other sensitive information.

A security guide for shopping online

Have you ever had any security issues on public WiFi? Share your experience in the comments below!

Ruby Gonzalez
Ruby Gonzalez successVerified author

Ruby is a cybersecurity expert and the Head of Communications at NordVPN. In her compelling stories, she sheds light on the latest happenings in the online privacy and security world.

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