Online shopping safety tips can help you this season

Online shopping safety tips can help you this season

Published: November 26, 2014.

Online shopping security is increasingly a concern for online shoppers. There are a few good practices that can assist in keeping information secure while shopping online.

Dr. Ray Klump, director of the Master of Science in Information Security program and chair of Mathematics and Computer Science at Lewis University, provides eight tips for your online Christmas shopping.

  • Make sure your computer's operating system, anti-virus and anti-spyware software, and web browsers are up-to-date. Malware, like viruses and rootkits make their way into your system by taking advantage of vulnerabilities. Software vendors are constantly upgrading their software to fix these vulnerabilities, and most recent software will try to update themselves automatically. But that won't help you if you are using old software that doesn't have these auto-update features. So, keep your system up-to-date!

  • Shop from vendors you know and trust. Some lesser-known sites might offer a more attractive price on an item, but there is risk in shopping online from a company that is new at it or hasn't had as much of a chance to test and fortify their systems. Even large sites struggle with security, as some vendors have had a lot of credit card information stolen during the past year. Smaller firms with potentially smaller and less expensive defenses will also be prone to this. If you are going to purchase items from a smaller vendor, try to limit your shopping to those whose payment processes are handled by larger, better-known vendors. And never submit your credit card information to a site that has an invalid or outdated security certificate, or to a site that doesn't have "https://" at the beginning of its address.

  • Don't click on links in an email. It can be really tempting to click on links in e-mails you receive from your loved ones. But it can be really hard to tell when your Aunt Mary's email account has been taken over by someone not in the holiday spirit. Before clicking, reply to the sender (but only if you know him or her) to make sure that they sent the link and that it is safe. If you donít know the sender, ignore the email entirely.

  • Use a credit card to make your purchase. If you buy something from a site that isn't quite on the up-and-up, most credit card companies insure you from liability. You usually don't get that same level of protection with a debit card.

  • If you share a computer with people for whom you've purchased gifts, you probably don't want them finding out what you've bought them. One way to preserve the element of surprise this holiday season is to hide your online tracks. Google's Chrome has Incognito mode, and Firefox has Private Browsing. In these modes, your browser won't record the stores you've visited to your history, and the stores won't be able to store cookies that also track your online whereabouts. It will prevent those Internet sleuths in your house from spoiling your surprise.

  • Keep track of the receipts stores email to you. And, if you're unsure whether an online store will email you the receipt, make sure you print what the screen says after you make your purchase. If something happens with the order, you'll want to make sure you have some record of what you purchased.

  • If you buy refurbished electronics online, seriously consider purchasing warranty coverage. SquareTrade is one of the most popular choices for this, and you can purchase excellent coverage for used and refurbished electronics for not a lot of money.

  • When your browser offers to save your password for a site so that you don't have to enter it again the next time you visit, always say no. It is very easy for anyone to recover the saved password. This is particularly important if you do your shopping from a computer that is not your own.

Lewis University offers a bachelorís degree in Computer Science as well as minors in Web and Mobile Programming, Computer Science and Cyber Security Science. It also co-manages a Master of Science in Information Security, which includes an innovative fast-track program that enables students to earn both a bachelorís and a masterís degree in five years.

Lewis University is a Catholic university in the Lasallian tradition offering distinctive undergraduate and graduate programs to more than 6,700 traditional and adult students. Lewis offers multiple campus locations, online degree programs, and a variety of formats that provide accessibility and convenience to a growing student population. Sponsored by the De La Salle Christian Brothers, Lewis prepares intellectually engaged, ethically grounded, globally connected, and socially responsible graduates. The seventh largest private not-for-profit university in Illinois, Lewis has been nationally recognized by The Princeton Review and U.S. News & World Report. Visit www.lewisu.edu for further information.



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