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Safer Online Shopping - Holiday Edition

Many of us will hop online over the next few months to purchase gifts, plane tickets, admission to shows and games, and food in preparation for the holidays. But with online convenience comes all kinds of security risks. Arm yourself by learning about safe online shopping so that you don't spend any of your vacation time worrying about fraudulent charges or personal data leaks.

Why do online shoppers have to take special precautions?

The Internet offers convenience, but it is also convenient for attackers, giving them multiple ways to access the personal and financial information of unsuspecting shoppers. Attackers who are able to obtain this information may use it for their own financial gain, either by making purchases themselves or by selling the information to someone else.

How do attackers target online shoppers?

There are three common ways that attackers can take advantage of online shoppers:

  1. Creating fraudulent sites and email messages – . Attackers may misrepresent themselves as as reputable companies or charities, especially after natural disasters or holiday seasons. Attackers create these malicious sites and email messages to try to convince you to supply personal and financial information.
  2. Intercepting insecure transactions – If a vendor does not use encryption, an attacker may be able to intercept your information as it is transmitted.
  3. Targeting vulnerable computers – If you don't take steps to protect your computer, an attacker may be able to gain access to it and all of the information on it. Reputable vendors work to protect their computers and systems to prevent attackers from accessing customer databases.
How can you protect yourself?
 Before Shopping
While Shopping

screenshot of chrome URL field with padlock highlighted

Location of padlock in Google Chrome on a PC.

screenshot of chrome URL field with padlock highlighted

Location of padlock in Google Chrome on a Mac.

screenshot of firefox URL field with padlock highlighted

Location of padlock in Firefox.

After Shopping

By following these guidelines and common sense during the busy holiday shopping season, you'll be giving yourself the gift of knowing your personal and financial data is secure for months to come.

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