By Jeffrey Ingalsbe
Black Friday deals will soon flood your inbox trying to get you excited about spending your hard-earned money the day after Thanksgiving. Increasingly, you can take advantage of those deals online, allowing you to avoid the long, early morning lines jostling others intent on getting the newest electronics. Online shopping may seem like the easy way out, but with cybercrime skyrocketing, it is not without risk. Here are some tips to keep you safer while shopping online:
Good—Here’s the minimum you should be doing to stay safe online:
o Keep software up to date (e.g., Windows, antivirus, smartphone).
o Never use free public Wi-Fi. Instead, use cellular data connections.
o Don’t fall for phishing scams by clicking links in emails.
o Don’t use a debit card online. Instead, use a credit card.
Better—Want to step up your cybersecurity game? Follow all of the recommendations in the “Good” category in addition to the following:
o Use a dedicated credit card with a low credit limit.
o Create and use an anonymous email address for your online accounts—for example, PrettyPrincess123@gmail.com instead of Jeff.Ingalsbe@gmail.com.
o Change the user account on your computer to a standard account instead of an administrator account.
Best—Become an online-shopping all-star by following all of the recommendations in the “Better” category and this next-level tip:
o Use a third-party payment service, such as PayPal, tied to a low-limit credit card, not your checking or savings account. PayPal is a reputable company with a dedicated security staff.
While there are no guarantees, these simple precautions can help reduce the risk that you will be the victim of cybercrime this shopping season.