12 Tips For Safe Online Shopping
Once reserved for crowded malls and brick-and-mortar stores, shopping for the holidays has experienced a dramatic shift to online retailers. Unfortunately, it's also a lucrative season for phishers and fraudsters, who use the jump in online traffic to illegally obtain the identities of unsuspecting online shoppers. To help, Entrust Inc. provides easy security tips to help customers remain safer while shopping online during the holidays.
"The holiday season is unsurprisingly lucrative for online phishers," said Entrust President and CEO Bill Conner. "And while they do employ sophisticated techniques for obtaining consumer identities, simple awareness can be a shopper's most valuable tool in having a safer and more secure online experience."
Know Phishing Tactics. Consumers can't be expected to identify every advanced trend in phishing. But they can be aware of common red flags that could signify a potential phishing attack, which may include suspicious URLs, misspellings and urgent requests for banking or personal information.
The SSL Standard. Secure Sockets Layers -- more commonly known as SSL -- helps ensure that Internet transmissions are encrypted and the identity of the organization has been verified. Consumers can verify if a site uses SSL via the "https:///" in the address bar instead of the standard "http" format.
Look for the Green Bar. Some online retailers have even deployed advanced EV SSL, which turns most browsers' address bars green during secure transactions. EV SSL is the highest level of security on the Web today.
Find the Golden Lock. One of the main security features of basic SSL, consumers should become familiar with looking for the gold padlock within their browser -- especially during the checkout process or when supplying personal information. This indicator should also be present when "https:///" is displayed before your site's URL in the address bar. Want further assurances? Double-click the gold padlock. Within the dialog box, you'll be able to verify the name of the company before completing the transaction.
Know Your Path. Tempting offers often arrive in your e-mail inbox. If something looks out of place, however, don't click on the links -- especially if they're not from a vendor or organization you currently have a relationship with. Instead, navigate to the site yourself to avoid scams and to validate the offer from the organization.
Seek the Seal. Respectable organizations will display the site seal of their SSL certificate provider either on their home page or during the checkout process. Take it a step further by clicking on the site seal to ensure it's legitimate. Verify that the date and name of the organization are consistent with the site you're visiting.
Update the Browser. If you're using a newer computer, make sure you're using today's most advanced browsers like Microsoft® Internet Explorer® 8, Mozilla Firefox 3 and Apple Safari 4.0. They all feature more advanced anti-phishing tools (e.g., EV SSL) than older browsers -- helping make it even easier for you to stay safe.
Card Security. Most online retailers will require the three-digit Card Verification Value (CVV or CV2) number from the back of your credit card. If they don't, think twice about completing the purchase.
Be Weary of Wi-Fi. Whenever possible, it's best to avoid online transactions when connected to a public Wi-Fi -- particularly if it's unsecured. You never know who could be listening.
Logical Logout. This may seem obvious, but log out of any Web session that store personal account or banking information. This simple practice is critical if using a public computer.
Avoid Browser Plugins. Sometimes the offer of a free toolbar for your browser may be too good to be true. Make sure you know who's providing the plugins and that they're not a clever disguise for something more nefarious.
Monitor Your Account. While it's a good habit to keep an eye on your banking account throughout the year, take a closer look during the holiday season -- particularly after purchasing products online. If your identity or account has been compromised, you may be able to limit fraud loss if it's caught early.