How to Protect Your Personal Information From Online Threats

Protect Your Personal Information From Online Threats
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How to Protect Your Personal Information From Online Threats

Highlights

Online shopping is the new trend. With millions of people shopping online every day, the industry is growing as fast as it gets. The main reason behind the success of online shopping is its simplicity — anyone can buy almost anything while sitting at home.

Online shopping is the new trend. With millions of people shopping online every day, the industry is growing as fast as it gets. The main reason behind the success of online shopping is its simplicity — anyone can buy almost anything while sitting at home.

No need to go through the hassle of going to different shops, trying to find a shirt you need. Anyone with an internet connection can browse as many different shopping sites as they want, compare the prices, and decide where to buy.

Another edge online shopping provides over traditional shopping is that most sites have a review section for their products. By reading the reviews, anyone can have an idea about the quality of the advertised product.

Clearly, online shopping has many advantages, but there are some disadvantages too. Malicious actors are constantly coming up with new ways to steal sensitive data or scam internet users. Online shopping is no exception, as the process involves the transfer of funds — this is the best target for an online thief trying to steal money or sensitive information, like credit card details, home address, etc.

Below are some tips to stay secure and protect sensitive information from online threats.

1 Shop Only At Trusted Sites

Creating a fake website is as easy as it could be. Anyone can make a fake shopping website to get the personal details and credit card information of people who fall for their scam. The best way to avoid this is by sticking to reputable shopping sites only. Always shop with businesses you trust or have shopped with before. Be cautious when sharing your credit card information on sites you have never used previously.

2 Use Secure Payment Methods

Never use a debit card for online shopping because, if your PIN gets compromised, it may take a while before you realize that someone has been going on shopping sprees and using your debit card. Always use a credit card and choose secure payment methods or third-party payment systems like PayPal or AndroidPay to protect your credit card information. These third-party payment agents will not reveal your credit card information to the retailers.

3 Use a VPN

You might ask, what is a VPN? A VPN extends a private network over a public network and lets users send or receive data over public networks as if their devices were connected over private networks, thus ensuring anonymity.

Using a VPN while shopping online protects your privacy on multiple levels. It hides your IP address and changes your virtual location, so any hacker looking to steal information from users in your area is already off your back. A VPN also encrypts any data you send, so any personal or financial information you share with your retailer is encrypted and protected from theft.

Another good reason for using a VPN is that it also conceals your information from internet providers and stops them from building a profile on your shopping habits.

4 Use Strong Passwords

When you shop online, you have to create an account on most shopping sites before ordering. All your personal and financial information, like your shipping address, phone number, and credit card details, is then stored on your account. That's why it is very important to secure that account as best you can.

If someone gets the password to your account, they can change the billing address and order things for themselves while you're dealing with the payments. Securing your account with a good and complex password is a must. Here are some tips on creating a strong password:

● Use a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols;

● Avoid using your personal information like birthdate, name, kids' names, or favorite color, as those can be easily guessed;

● Avoid using dictionary words in your password;

● The best way to have a strong password is keeping a passphrase instead, which will contain a mix of numbers and symbols. Such a passphrase will be much harder for anyone to guess.

5 Always Check Webpage Security

When shopping online, always check the security of the site you are browsing. Most websites will have a small padlock icon before the URL displayed in the address bar. If there is a padlock icon, the site has privacy protection installed. Never share personal or financial details on sites without privacy protection.

Another thing to always check is whether the URL of the secure site starts with "HTTPS", which stands for "hypertext transfer protocol secure". Sites that don't have the 's' after HTTP are not secure — leave them immediately. Provide personal information only on sites that have the padlock icon in the address bar and an 's' after HTTP in their URL. If a website is missing any of these protocols, consider it a red flag and refrain from sharing personal information on them.

6 Avoid Public Wi-Fi

Always avoid shopping online over public Wi-Fi networks. As the Wi-Fi password is freely available, any hacker with a little tech knowledge can intercept the traffic going through that Wi-Fi network and keep whatever information they want, including emails, browsing history, or passwords. Online shopping includes sharing personal information, and doing this over public Wi-Fi means any hacker can get your sensitive information, such as credit card details or home address.

But if there is no other option and you must log in to a website or shop online over public Wi-Fi, the only secure way to do so is by using a VPN. What is a VPN and what are its advantages? This has already been discussed, but here are some more reasons for using a VPN while shopping online. Even if the network is public and some hacker has gotten access to it, when you use a VPN, all the data your device sends is encrypted, so the hacker will not be able to see your private information. A VPN will make the public connection secure, enabling you to shop online while keeping your passwords, credit card information, and other sensitive details secure.

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