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Online shopping advice #1

As more Internet users realise the convenience of online shopping, many don’t realise the risks associated with using their credit or debit cards for online transactions. ANDREY KOSTIN of Kaspersky Lab offers some advice of how to stay safe.

Bank cards have almost superseded cash when it comes to paying for goods and services and Internet users are no strangers to the benefits of ‚flashing the plastic’. It’s increasingly convenient to use credit and debit cards for online shopping, making hotel reservations, renting cars, and buying airline tickets online ‚ especially over the December period when going away or purchasing gifts. Of course, this type of payment could not escape the close attention of fraudsters who would love nothing more than to get their hands on the confidential data that is provided to a store or bank’s website by online customers. There are also numerous fraudulent online stores out there offering a wide selection of goods. In the best case scenario, you may actually get what you pay for: in the worst case, you’ll lose all the money on your card.

When planning to shop online, it’s worthwhile getting a separate plastic card to use exclusively for online transactions and topping up the balance immediately before each purchase. Particular care should be taken when selecting an online store. It’s always best to do your online shopping at well-known and highly recommended online resources. However, when searching for an online store, there is always a risk that you might end up on a fraudulent website. Since fraudulent sites are usually short-lived, malicious users often do not spend a lot of time or effort on their design. Fake sites may have links that don’t work, while some tabs and websites may not even function properly or result in error messages. If there is any doubt about the legitimacy of an online store, an Internet search can reveal more information such as the store’s contact details, bank details and much more.

One of the most dangerous aspects of shopping online comes when making a payment for an order. To prevent malicious users from intercepting confidential data entered on an online store’s website, the data must be sent in encrypted form. The first thing that users should look for before entering their private data is the letter ‚S’ in the address bar, i.e., “HTTPS‚ . Additionally, if a website has a valid signature from a legitimate certificate authority, there will be a little lock icon in the address field or the browser status field.

Buyers often have a choice between processing payments using the store’s own payment form or taking advantage of another payment system (PayPal, pay online system, WebMoney, etc.). If there are any suspicions around the online store or the company that issued the certificate, one of these systems can be used. This does not completely protect users against scammers, but it does keep personal data safe and protects against greater losses.

Falling victim to such scams is not restricted to customers of online stores but also affects clients of online banks. Cybercriminals lure users to sites that are very similar to those of banks and other financial organisations, using spyware to redirect clients to fraudulent resources. The risk of disclosing your data is especially high when conducting transactions with bank cards from a public computer or device connected to a public Wi-Fi network.

Don’t be afraid to shop online or to use online banking services. Just be careful and follow these basic steps, and you will be able to safely and conveniently take advantage of everything the Internet has to offer. Choose a password that is difficult to crack. Use a virtual keyboard to enter your confidential data. When performing online transactions, you can use a so-called ‚sandbox’ which is included in many antivirus solutions, and helps minimise the risk of confidential data being intercepted.‚

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