In an era where the digital landscape continues to evolve, online shopping has become an integral part of our daily lives. However, as we embrace the convenience of this digital transformation, it's crucial to recognise the growing threat of cybercrime that looms over the online shopping experience.
Recent stats from a 2022 LexisNexis cybercrime report show an alarming surge in cyber threats, particularly those targeting online shoppers. It was found that there was a 195% increase in the number of automated bot attacks on e-commerce sites and a 29% increase in human-initiated attacks on e-commerce sites.
Avoiding cyber scammers requires a combination of vigilance, skepticism and good cybersecurity practices. Here are a few top considerations to avoid being a victim of cybercrime.
Phishing attacks involve fraudulent emails or messages that appear to be from legitimate sources, such as banks or online retailers. These messages often contain links that lead to fake websites designed to steal your personal information.
To protect yourself, always verify the sender's email address and avoid clicking on suspicious links or downloading attachments. Legitimate companies will never ask for sensitive information via email.
Cyber scammers create fake websites that mimic well-known online stores to deceive shoppers into entering their payment information. These websites often have slight variations in the URL or poor design quality.
Before making a purchase, double-check the website's URL for any unusual characters or misspellings. Look for secure connections (https://) and ensure that the site has a valid SSL certificate.
If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Cyber scammers use incredibly low prices to lure unsuspecting shoppers. Always research the product's average price range and be skeptical of overly generous discounts.
UNSOLICITED EMAILS AND MESSAGES
Be cautious of unsolicited emails or messages, especially those requesting personal information or payment details. Legitimate businesses rarely contact customers in this manner.
If you receive such a message, independently verify the sender's identity by contacting the company directly using official contact information.
Using weak or easily guessable passwords makes it easier for cyber scammers to gain unauthorised access to your accounts. Always use strong, unique passwords for each of your online accounts.
Consider using a password manager to generate and store complex passwords securely and enable multi-factor authentication wherever possible.
Avoid making online purchases on public Wi-Fi networks, as they are often less secure and can leave your personal information vulnerable to interception by cybercriminals.
Instead, use a secure and private network, such as your home Wi-Fi or a trusted virtual private network (VPN), when conducting online transactions.
It’s important to take a pro-active approach to your online safety with the following additional security measures:
- Enable two-factor authentication (2FA) whenever possible to add an extra layer of security.
- Keep software updated to patch security vulnerabilities.
- Educate yourself about common scams and phishing techniques, as well as common tactics used by scammers, such as urgency or threats.
- Be cautious about sharing personal information online, especially on social media. Adjust privacy settings on social media platforms to limit the visibility of your personal information.
- Install reliable security software to protect your devices from malicious software.
- Backup your data regularly to an external drive or secure cloud service to prevent data loss in case of a cyber attack.
Remember, being proactive and cautious is key to avoid falling victim to cyber scams. If something seems off or too good to be true, take the time to investigate and verify before taking any action.