Living and working from home for the past two years has significantly increased the reliance on online shopping among South Africans. Embracing the convenience it offers, especially for those with time constraints or those seeking good deals, has become a norm. However, as Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the festive season approach, the surge in online shopping also brings forth the lurking threat of cybercrime. Adhering to these safety measures, South African consumers can enjoy the convenience of online shopping without falling prey to cyber threats, ensuring a secure and enjoyable shopping experience. Here are some essential tips to stay safe while indulging in online shopping
1. Beware of Fake Websites
During sales periods, cybercriminals often clone websites to deceive consumers into thinking they are shopping on a legitimate site. Look out for subtle changes like pixelated images, malfunctioning site functions, and double-check the website address to ensure its authenticity.
2. Shop Only on Secure Sites
Before entering any information, ensure the website is safe and secure. Check the validity of the web address by hovering your mouse over the URL. Look for a padlock symbol in the address bar and ensure the URL starts with ‘https://’ or ‘shttp://’. Without HTTPS, data passed on the site is insecure and vulnerable to interception.
3. Be Cautious of Too-Good-To-Be-True Deals
Approach emails or social media posts promising unbelievable deals with caution. Clicking on such links may lead to phishing sites or malware downloads. Research the credibility of the site or go directly to the brand’s website to verify the deal’s authenticity.
4. Use Strong, Unique Passwords
Creating robust, unique passwords for each online account is crucial. Avoid using the same password for multiple accounts, as this increases the risk of data theft. Unique usernames and passwords for different accounts ensure that if one account is compromised, others remain secure.
5. Exercise Caution with Public WiFi
Avoid using public WiFi networks for online shopping, as they lack authentication, allowing hackers direct access to unsecured devices. Hackers can steal login details, credit card information, and other sensitive data or spread malware through such networks.
6. Monitor Bank Statements
Keep a close watch on your bank statements, especially during high online activity periods. Set up immediate notifications for your bank account to detect any unusual transactions. Vigilance can help identify and report fraudulent activities promptly.
7. Update Security Software
Ensure all security software is up-to-date before starting your online shopping spree. Updated software prevents cybercriminals from exploiting vulnerabilities in older systems, safeguarding your computer and personal information.