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Keep digitally safe this holiday season

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With the festive season around the corner, many consumers will be looking to beat the Christmas shopping rush by shopping online. While this is a fast, effective and convenient way to purchase holiday gifts, it can be hazardous for those that are inadequately protected against online fraud.

A recent worldwide survey of computer users from IT security expert Avira indicates that only 30% of people feel secure enough to be at ease as they shop online, while the remaining 70% report being worried about security when purchasing goods on a website. ‚Because of the continued data breaches, phishing attacks, and security vulnerabilities that get reported on almost every day, consumers have every right to not feel 100 percent safe while they shop online,‚ says Lutz Blaeser, MD of local dedicated Avira distributor Intact Security. ‚But a good security software solution will ensure that users can shop online safely.‚

He explains that security software such as Avira’s Internet Security suite prevents consumers from becoming a victim of online fraudsters by detecting all the viruses, worms and Trojans out there while filtering out unwanted and phishing e-mails, blocking hacker attempts to take over a computer and protecting against identity theft. The software also stops users from landing on malicious sites, blocks software downloads while surfing and boasts a powerful firewall to add an extra layer of defence against intrusions.

‚A good security solution will watch your back, making sure no-one can access your personal information and keeping you away from dangerous websites,‚ he adds. ‚However, consumers need to remain aware, and ensure that the connection to the online store where the payment is done is secured. If the web browser gives any warnings about the security certificate of the website, then do not purchase anything from that website.‚

Online security does not only apply to safely purchasing goods over the Internet. Social networks also pose a security risk for the unaware. Digital fraudsters are routinely using the information available on people’s profiles to enrich themselves through identity theft. And while effective security software will protect users against this type of criminal activity even on social networking sites, keeping private information private goes a long way to helping keep users safe.

‚Do not make all information about you available online or on any social media site such as address, city, telephone, friends, preferences, relatives, etc. If this information is freely available, someone with a little luck could theoretically impersonate you even on the most secure websites since the questions asked to retrieve a password are usually related to this type of information,‚ says Blaeser. ‚Also, protecting passwords is the simplest way to stay safe. Don’t use the same password on all the social networking websites.‚

This battle for information privacy even extends to what pictures people post on their profiles. Blaeser points out that vacation time can provide another security risk in the form of holiday photos. ‚Don’t give out information too liberally about when you are away from your home or where you’re going. We know that the bad guys troll the web for personal information which can be exploited, so it’s a good policy to just say ‚no’ to providing too much personal information on social networking sites ‚including photos that will tell online criminals that you are most likely not monitoring what is going on in your digital environment,‚ Blaeser concludes.

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