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Posted on December 12, 2017 by in Identity & Privacy, Personal

Cyber Monday kicks off the holiday shopping season each year, and this year was no different. It also marks the high season for online shopping security risks. There are big data breaches almost every year so make sure that you keep security top of mind.

Here’s some tips on protecting your data when shopping online for the holidays.

Use Passwords That are Strong

The single best way to prevent yourself from being hacked is to create a strong and unique password for every website that you buy from. Remember, this password could be all that is stopping someone from accessing your credit card information, address, and other personal information. Use a password that contains letters, both upper case and lower case, numbers, and symbols. You should avoid using anything obvious, too, like your pet’s name. And NEVER use the same password for multiple accounts. If you have a hard time remembering all of those unique passwords, consider using a password manager to make your life a little easier.

Update All Software

We are all guilty of not updating our software when we should. However, don’t do this with your anti-virus software – especially before you embark on an online shopping spree, as this software can help to prevent hackers from getting into your accounts. Also, make sure to update your operating system and all other software as well. All it takes is a single vulnerability in an outdated piece of software for a cyber criminal to gain access to your computer.

Use Two-Step Verification When Possible

Many businesses offer two-factor verification on their sites to log in. This adds an extra layer of security that hackers have to get around, and it’s difficult for them to do so. Any time that you have the ability to make usre of two-factor authentication, you should.

Ignore Strange Emails

Many companies send holiday shopping and promotional emails all throughout the holiday season. Some hackers try to capitalize on this, and try to catch victims through phishing scams. Don’t fall for scams promising unrealistically deep discounts or free merchandise. You know what they say, if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.

Keep an Eye on Credit Card Statements

Keep a close eye on your credit card statements for any activity that looks suspicious. If you do find anything suspicious, report it immediately. Sign up for alerts and notifications for all your charges.

Keep Your Devices Locked

An unlocked device can easily expose your personal info to hackers. Keep your devices locked with a password or biometric option.

Only Use Approved Apps

Only use shopping apps that you get from a trusted source. These include the Amazon App Store, Android Market, and Apple App Store. Also, make sure that you are carefully reading what the app can access. For instance, do you really need to give a shopping app access to your list of contacts? Probably not.

Shop Safely from a Computer

Even when shopping on the computer, make sure that you are connected to a secure network. Public Wi-Fi networks aren’t safe. Always use a VPN (virtual private network) when shopping online connected to a public Wi-Fi connection.

Use Security Apps

Finally, consider downloading security apps to further enhance your safety when shopping online during the holidays. These make shopping apps on your phones and tablets much safer.

Online retailers should be scanning their sites for malicious activity, but as we know, we can’t always count on these organizations to do what they are supposed to do. So, make sure that you are also taking these extra steps to keep yourself and your data, safe.