The Christmas shopping season is in full swing.
This year saw online retailers publishing “Black/White/Yellow Friday” deals with their expectations for improvement on their online deals. The pandemic COVID-19 in 2020 increases the risks of shopping in stores, leading more customers towards online shopping. As a result, the number of online shoppers and the devices connected to the Internet keeps obviously rising this year, larger than that of recent years.
There is no denying the fact that online shopping makes our lives easier in many different ways. However, at the same time, it can be extremely unsafe under certain circumstances. If you are a big fan of online shopping, please be mindful of the fact that numerous fraudsters and scammers are extremely active in the digital realm to steal your hard-earned money.
What Risks Would be Possibly Met during Online Shopping?
Mentioned below are some of the most common risks associated with online shopping.
• Identity Theft
This involves getting hold of the personal information of a shopper and using that information for the purpose of making personal purchases. The personal information generally includes phone numbers, credit card information, and financial information. There are many different ways of stealing personal information online such as phishing emails, installing spy apps, malware, etc.
• Scams and Email Links
Scammers also send emails that may look like innocuous communication from a trusted online store or bank. These emails may ask you to click on a link to claim an attractive discount or free products. However, these are forgeries and you can fall prey to it just by clicking on the link.
• Credit Card Fraud
Malicious users can also intercept the payment portal of an online store. When this happens, instead of the legitimate payment gateway, the shoppers are diverted to the site of the malicious users. This is how the fraudsters can gain access to your credit card information.
Some other common threats include adware and malware, fake online stores, cloned websites, fake charities, etc.
Through Which Ways Can Online Risks be Caused?
Just as online sales are at the forefront, so should cybersecurity.
Remember, online retailers aren’t the only party expecting to gain profts from the increase of online shopping. The shopping season also provides opportunities to hackers and cybercriminals. The COVID-19 has up to now seen great improvement of cyber risks.
To avoid being the victims of cyberattacks, it’s necessary to know how the online risks are caused.
Phishing, together with its variants, including spear-fishing and whaling, is a cyberattack based on a phishing email. Hackers seduce victims to provide their sensitive information through social engineering techniques. Victims usually go through the following procedure: email reading, link clicking, attachment opening, and leak their personal or corporate information.
Ransomware attacks are caused by hackers that exort money from victims through encrypting their access right for files or the whole system. The attacks won’t come to an end until money is exorted. Recent years have witnessed an increasing popularity of ransomware attacks because on one hand, huge money can be easily “earned” and on the other hand ransomware attacks are easy to be implemented. An RaaS tool packet is so easy to get on dark market with a low cost that it’s easy for hackers to carry out attacks. Moreover, phishing emails usually carry the ransomware.
Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS)
DDoS attacks stop computers, servers, websites or services running by an army of bots called a botnet taking up too much Internet traffic. A botnet is easy to be established by hackers due to the increasing development and application of IoT devices. If DDoS attacks occur during Christmas shopping season, online shopping websites will be stopped from visiting. In other words, online retailers hate DDoS attacks more than customers.
Malware attacks take multiple forms, including viruses, worms, spam, spyware, etc. Some malware attacks, like spam emails, usually lead people to annoyance while viruses and worms have a negative effect on the system’s functions and users’ productivity by network infection. Spywares slow down the running of the system and also report sensitive information like passwords to hackers.
Injection attacks inject malicious codes to programming by taking advantage of the bugs in web applications so that codes will be parsed and the program will be implemented based on malicious codes. In other words, injection attacks make applications do something that is never expected from you, like changing websites or publishing encrypted data to hackers. If an online shopping website suffers from injection attacks, their website will usually be redirected to an illegitimate website.
How to Stay Safe When Shopping Online?
Luckily, there are many ways to shop online without any or minimize risk. Mentioned below are some points to take into account.
• Look for HTTPS for Shopping Online
While making any purchase online, make sure that the website URL of the online store starts with HTTPS, not HTTP. This additional “S” means that your data is sent in a secure manner. A website starting with HTTPS utilizes Secure Sockets Layer to encrypt the information so that it can only be seen by the intended recipient. However, this safety feature is not available with HTTP websites.
• Never Shop on Public Wi-Fi Network
With public internet connected, or a public WiFi network used such as at a coffee shop, entering any personal information is like sending out an invitation to fraudsters. The data encryption feature is not available with most of the Wi-Fi hotspots. Therefore, with the right kind of software, it is simple to intercept any information shared over these networks.
• Frequently Check Your Credit Card Statement
The smartest way to shop online is to use a credit card. Under the Fair Credit Billing Act, card issuers are liable to reimburse their customers for fraudulent charges. Therefore, keep checking your card statement frequently, and instantly report to the company if you notice anything suspicious occurring to your account.
Some other useful precautions include updating the browser regularly, not clicking any link or emails you hold even slight suspicion of, changing passwords regularly and never use the same password everywhere, and using virtual credit card numbers.
By the Way, How to Save Money while Shopping Online
If you are smart enough as a shopper, there are different ways to save your hard-earned money while shopping online.
• Compare Bargains across Sites
Anyone who shops online knows very well that the same product is sold by different online shops at different prices. To avoid overpaying, you may install any of the available browser add-ons. These tools are capable of automatically generating a smart chart comprising of the prices of a given product across many different online platforms.
• Use a VPN to Find Better Deals Online
We may not realize it, but online stores often treat customers based on whatever information they discover about them. By using a VPN, it is actually possible to save money by finding out the best online deals while remaining secure. Generally speaking, the prices for developed countries are higher than those for developing countries. As you get your device connected with a server from another place around the world, you’ll see a lower price.
Before starting a new search, don’t forget to clear the cookies.
• Leave Items in Your Cart
Add items you need in the cart and do nothing for the next few days. Most online shops hate seeing stuff in the shopping cart and may come up with special discounts or coupons for you.