Protect Yourself From Online Security Breaches

Posted on May 8, 2013

More and more people are turning to their computers for all or most of their shopping needs.  But with so many flocking online and giving their bank account and credit card information out willingly to various entities, it’s important to keep security in mind at all times.

A new report out of Canada provides some handy tips that consumers might follow to safeguard their sensitive data when making a purchase online.  And safety starts with understanding the threat.

The article outlines some typical ploys that scammers will put into place to gain access to a customer’s financial data.  One type of tactic is known as a “watering hole” attack.  This occurs when criminals gain access to an otherwise legitimate site in order to latch onto the information provided by consumers to that site.  Many times, it will be a small business that receives the brunt of a fraud’s attention, as they often can’t utilize the extensive security protocols in place for multinational corporations.

Still one other scam stems from those ads you see on just about every website you visit.  Basically, a scammer will purchase ad space which then appears on a site that would otherwise be trustworthy.  But when a user follows that ad in the hopes of taking advantage of a too-good-to-be-true offer, they find themselves exposed to malware that has the potential to compromise their computer.

Thankfully, there are steps you can take to protect your computer and your information.  When you’re about to make a purchase, check for the HTTPS handle in the browser bar instead of the standard HTTP.  This, as well as a padlock symbol, conveys security, and you should be safe on that site.  Just remember:  S = Secure.

You know those pesky software updates that seem to pop up every week?  Download those.  Rather than perceive them as an inconvenience, think of them as enhancements to your security, which is exactly what they are.  Technology companies constantly tweak browsers to improve security, and you want to be up to date.

Be smart with your passwords.  You’ll notice that the sites that require optimum security will ask you to input a password that includes numbers, symbols, and lowercase and capital letters.  There’s a reason for that.  These types of passwords are much harder to crack than a simple word.  The longer the better, and you should revisit and switch up your passwords occasionally

Finally, only make transactions on a secure network.  If you’re using a Wi-Fi connection that doesn’t require a password, consider holding off on something like banking until you can get to a more properly secured hotspot.  And when it comes to clicking on ads, avoid offers that couldn’t possibly be real or that sound like a scam.  Be doubly sure of an ad’s veracity when you click.

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