How to Prevent a Hacker: Tips for Holiday Shopping Online

Learn How to Prevent a Hacker

Learn How to Prevent a Hacker

Since most Cyber Monday deals extended throughout the holiday season, you’re likely shopping online more than ever. But holiday shopping is as productive for cybercriminals as it is for online retailers. Pay attention to your online transactions. Learn how to prevent a hacker with our round up of tips to protect your personal information and stay safe while holiday shopping online.

Shop From a Secure and Trusted Device

Never shop from a tablet, phone, or computer that doesn’t have antivirus software. Not only could it be infected by malware, but any information entered into an unprotected device, including credit card numbers, is at risk of being stolen. Always use a protected device with up to date protection software. In most cases, if you’re vigilant, that should include your personal devices. To prevent a hacker, avoid sharing your personal or financial information on public computers, devices that aren’t yours (including friends and family), and even work or company devices if they’re shared.

Shop Using A Secure Connection

Your data and information can easily be stolen if a hacker controls the network you’re shopping on. It’s recommended to shop only from your own secure network instead of a public network. When considering how to prevent a hacker from breaching your network, utilizing a virtual private network (VPN) ensures an extra layer of security. Also make sure any website you choose to shop on is trusted and secure. For most big retailers, that shouldn’t be a problem. But it’s also great to support your local and small businesses.  Just be sure to double check you are visiting the correct website, and be vigilant about that site’s security. If something feels off or outdated, try calling or visiting in person (you know, the old fashioned way!). 

Choose Your Browsers Wisely

If you’re worried about big data breaches or tracking, you might carefully consider what browser you’re using. Sometimes the best approach to prevent a hacker is to stay as “off the grid” as possible. Hackers could trick you into clicking on a false link if you’re trying to shop in a browser. Trusted experts still highly recommend Mozilla Firefox, as it has some of the strongest user-friendly privacy tools of more common browsers out right now. But there are plenty of other options. Just be sure to do your own research on the reliability of any browser before you download it and start putting your personal information out there. Shopping directly through retailer apps on your smart device where applicable is another way to subvert browsers altogether.

Some Deals Are Too Good To Be True

If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Cybercriminals know that people are looking for the best possible prices and will often lure unwitting victims into a trap with fake deals. Never open attachments in emails promising unbelievable deals and only use trusted vendors when placing your orders. Look closely at every email! Criminals are savvy about using fake email addresses and designs that mimic big brands and corporations.

Review Your Bank Statements

Most banks and cards will refund you if your information has been stolen. But it’s still important to keep an eye on your bank statements, especially when it’s so easy to make multiple purchases in a short amount of time. Look out for mysterious purchases or a few consecutive purchases of smaller dollar amounts. Many cyber criminals will play the long game. If anything jumps out to you, call your bank or credit card company immediately. Notify them of the purchase, and place an immediate hold on your accounts. Many banks also offer alert services to monitor suspicious activity.

Don’t Use Debit

Credit card fraud can be frustrating and common but believe it or not, credit cards tend to offer more protection from cyber criminals than debit cards do. If you can, use credit cards while doing your online shopping. Just be sure to immediately pay off the balance with your debit. This is much safer than using your debit card directly.

Use Unique Logins

Many retailers require you to create an online account. On the one hand, it’s a great way to prevent a hacker. On the other, it’s yet another login and password for you to remember. Yes, it’s tempting to use the same passwords everywhere across all of your devices and memberships. But one of the top rules in how to prevent a hacker 101 is to create unique logins everywhere. 

Yes, it’s a pain remembering more than one login but if you use the same username and password for every retailer then a hacker only has to get the info for one to be able to access all the others. It’s recommended you use different login details for every retailer you shop with and keep the info in a separate, secure file (or better yet, write it analog!), so you don’t forget.

Make Passwords Difficult

Additionally, passwords should always be as long as possible and use a mix of upper case, lower case, numbers, and symbols. If you’re having trouble remembering all your passwords for each retailer, feel free to use a password manager to help.

Read the Privacy Policies

Each website has its own privacy policy. It may be tedious but it’s a good idea to read each one thoroughly. Some sites might seem okay but will sell your information to the highest bidder.

Use Two-Step Verification

It can be tedious, but two-step verification adds an extra layer of security to your account by making you verify yourself even if you know the password. They might ask for an email or phone number or a special code sent via text. This type of verification could easily stop someone from making all their holiday purchases on your account.

For More Security and Home Automation Tips and Solutions, Stick with ACS Security

Though it’s a part of so many aspects of our lives, it’s important to remember that the web is still worldwide. It’s easy to grow comfortable with internet habits, but it never hurts to take those extra steps to stay as safe as possible.

And if you’re looking for more ways to keep yourself and your family safe, check out our home security and automation services at ACS Security. We offer a wide range of home security options to protect you and your family. If you’re ready to discuss our custom solutions, contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you prepare for what’s next.