Safe Online Shopping Practices for the Holidays

The winter holidays are the biggest online shopping season each year. NetElixir has estimated seasonal revenue for 2018 will grow 15 percent year-over-year, to $97 billion. The combination of gift-giving and steep discounts reliably drives huge activity every November and December, which is both a boost to the economy and, on the downside, a unique cybersecurity risk for millions of shoppers.

Cyber Monday and beyond: How can you stay safe while shopping online?

While Black Friday is the high-profile, low-price kickoff to the holiday shopping season, Cyber Monday often has even better deals for shoppers who prefer to purchase online instead of in-store. It’s just the start, though, as many e-commerce sellers maintain special offers throughout the season. But capitalizing on these once-a-year opportunities can come at a steep cost if you’re not careful.

Safe Online Shopping Practices for the Holidays

Online shopping seems relatively simple on the surface, but there are many moving parts that make it possible, from website security certificates to payment services. That means a lot can potentially go wrong, especially if you don’t know what to look out for. Let’s quickly review some tips for staying safe this season.

Only shop on sites with current security certificates

Any e-commerce site should have HTTPS in its web address. A green bar with the domain name’s owner in it is also acceptable. These are both indicators that you have an encrypted connection to a site. Without them (i.e., on plain HTTP), sensitive data like payment card details could be compromised.

Connect via secure, password-protected networks or cellular

When you shop online, you want the maximum possible security and privacy for your transactions. That means never buying anything while connected to public or open Wi-Fi networks, or even to the Wi-Fi of someone you don’t know well. Stick to your own Wi-Fi or to cellular service like LTE for the safest results.

Read emails carefully

It’s normal to get more email communications than usual over the holidays, especially from retailers eager to tell you about all of their deals. Proceed with caution: Some of these messages could be attempts at phishing. Watch out for typos, unusual send addresses and implorations to take immediate action – all might be signs of someone trying to steal your information by having you hand over personal information or visit a compromised website.

Take advantage of third-party payment services and auto-fill

Entering your card number into a website is both a hassle and a possible risk if someone is looking over your shoulder or monitoring the network. A better alternative is to just use something like PayPal or Apple Pay, which allows you to check out with a relatively streamlined process using pre-saved payment details. Many platforms also support autofilling of credit card numbers.

Use antivirus and security software

Solutions like Total Defense Ultimate Internet Security provide another line of defense by keeping you safe from malware and viruses. To learn more about how you can upgrade your protections this holiday season, visit our shop page.