How To

Black Friday shopping? Here's how to stay safe

Whether you know it or not, you’ve already benefited from security features developed to protect personal data like passwords, usernames, and credit card numbers. Websites designed by financial institutions, insurance companies, and government agencies all contain sophisticated security features to help keep your private information safe from cyber criminals

Most of us never even think about checking the online security status of a preferred online shop or service —and that’s because nowadays most of us take online security for granted.

Online threats are not limited to large corporations or brands—anyone can become a victim. For this reason, it’s important to know what to look for to ensure a safe online shopping experience.

Look for security when online shopping

Unless you know what to look for, you won’t be able to identify the security features of online vendors. In particular, you should be looking for an SSL Certification, which you can verify in a few ways:

  • Look for the addition of an ‘S’ to the ‘http://’ at the beginning of a websites URL. Look for visual cues indicating security, such as a lock symbol and green colour in the address bar. Before entering a credit card payment or any confidential information make sure that the website in your browser address bar turns green or begins with HTTPS and not HTTP. This is an indicator that your session is secure and that the site is using encryption to protect your personal data. This protocol is known as SSL—Secure Socket Layer—encryption and it protects online transactions by keeping data in transit confidential through encryption. In other words, your information is not visible to hackers.

Other Ways to Stay Secure:

While you’re shopping on a website, some of these security features may not be present. Here are some other tips on how to stay protected while spreading the seasonal cheer:

  • Don't click on unexpected emails or links to "deals" that seem too good to be true. During the Christmas season, a phishing attempt may come in the form of an email advertising a great deal or offer, but the links within the email will direct you to a bogus website that was built to capture a victim’s personal information. Have your guard up for emails and text messages advertising great deals that seem too good to be true. Although spam can seem harmless, avoid clicking on links and downloading files from unknown sources. Phishing emails and websites often can contain typos and spelling and grammatical mistakes making them easier to spot.

  • Keep software up to date and use the latest, updated version of your Internet browser to avoid security holes, which are other ways malware can sneak in.

  • Use a VPN when you browse. This encrypts your traffic so even if someone manages to eavesdrop, they’ll just have a bunch of encrypted data. VPNs, or virtual private networks, like Norton Secure VPN, can turn Wi-Fi into secured private connections.

  • Check to ensure your purchases and transactions are taking place on a secure site. You can actually find out a lot about a website’s security by looking for visual cues. Scan the entire site for trust marks. Norton Secure Seal is a widely recognized trust mark that provides evidence that a retailer’s identity has been verified and the website is secured by Symantec.

  • Use a comprehensive Internet security solution from a trusted source such as Norton Security and ensure that it is always up to date.

  • Always use strong passwords, update them regularly, and never reuse the same password for multiple accounts. This is especially important for accounts that contain your personal information. Norton Identity Safe is a tool you can use to manage your passwords for free.

  • Lastly, if you are still unsure about the credibility of a website you can use Norton Safe Web, a free online tool, that can help identify risky websites as you shop.

Shopping online is easy and convenient, provided that you’re vigilant about online security. If you don’t see any of the above security features on a website, play safe and look elsewhere for the product or service you desire.


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