Cyber Monday and security threats are two things most of us don't want to hear when busy buying products online. With Cyber Monday now becoming a major part of annual pop culture, it's easy to get caught up into thinking more about major discounts than worrying about threats from hackers or viruses. Even more so, people will likely be using their mobile devices to shop online in a time when mobile security isn't always the greatest.
Are we conditioning ourselves into accepting that our online shopping experiences may have consistent risk, or can we do things to successfully combat it? Consider some simple safeguards that could help you if something does happen, whether on your desktop or a mobile device. Plus, you can go by the reputation of a business as a basic path in making things a little easier.
Use a Credit Card Over Your Debit Card
This safeguard may be a challenge if you don't use a credit card. The only option for those people is to enter a bank debit card as a payment option at online stores. However, even the big-name stores can end up having their accounts hacked. We've already seen how prominent it is with websites we never thought would have security compromises. Because bank debit cards don't have security features credit cards do, you could have your bank account compromised.
Be sure to check all your bank accounts and the transactions occurring there. Mashable says those who steal your number frequently do small purchases first so they aren't scoped out until it's too late.
Create Complex Passwords
Every major online store wants you to create a password that's complex rather than easy to guess. Don't become lazy and brush off creating passwords that contain random characters and numbers. It's far too easy to want to create a three-letter word that's easy to remember or a simple phrase a hacker can easily crack. Have a list somewhere that contains all your passwords so you can refer to it when needed. Your password should be long with not only random characters and numbers but also using a combination of caps and lower case.
Using public Wi-Fi is going to be a major concern when shopping through a mobile device. With so many people on the go, it might be a temptation to use Wi-Fi in a random coffeehouse while participating in Cyber Monday shopping. It's best to use your own private Wi-Fi system at home or elsewhere to prevent a hacker from tapping your account.
Also keep in mind to time out your passwords on your mobile device. If you don't, someone could gain access to your passwords if your smartphone is stolen on Cyber Monday.
Stick with Trusted Store Names
Small, independent stores should still be considered online (particularly as part of Small Business Saturday). Nevertheless, consider the security on their sites and be judicious on whether you want to give them your credit card number. Places like Amazon.com have better track records of not having vulnerable security problems, even though anything can happen.
When going through independent merchants on Amazon, be sure to check their reputation level before buying from them. Fortunately, Amazon provides a chart that allows customers to rate and leave comments about past transactions.
And let's give credit to any online store that goes the extra mile to make sure your shopping is as secure as possible. Those are the businesses we should promote and reward. You can do that here at Consumers' Choice Award. Feel free to nominate them so we can promote them and make them better known for next year's Cyber Monday mania.