Stay Safe When You Shop Online
Before you connect to the Internet, take a moment to evaluate that you’re prepared to share information or engage in a larger community. The STOP.THINK.CONNECT. awareness campaign offers the following tips to ensure stronger online safety this holiday season:
Keep a Clean Machine:
- Keep security software current: Having the latest security software, web browser, and operating system are the best defenses against viruses, malware, and other online threats.
- Automate software updates: Many software programs will automatically connect and update to defend against known risks. Turn on automatic updates if that’s an available option.
- Protect all devices that connect to the Internet: Along with computers, smartphones, gaming systems, and other web-enabled devices also need protection from viruses and malware.
- Plug & scan: “USBs” and other external devices can be infected by viruses and malware. Use your security software to scan them.
Your Personal Information:
- Secure your accounts: Ask for protection beyond passwords. Many account providers now offer additional ways for you verify who you are before you conduct business on that site.
- Create Strong Passwords: Combine capital and lowercase letters with numbers and symbols to create a more secure password. When opening new accounts, use long and strong passwords.
- Provide Only Essential Personal Information: Only provide the minimal amount of information needed to complete a transaction. When providing personal information for any purchase or other reason, ensure that you know who is asking for the information, and why they need it.
Unique account, unique password:
- Separate passwords for every account helps to thwart cybercriminals.
- Write it down and keep it safe: Everyone can forget a password. Keep a list that’s stored in a safe, secure place away from your computer.
- Own your online presence: When available, set the privacy and security settings on websites to your comfort level for information sharing. It’s ok to limit who you share information with.
Connect with Care:
- When in doubt, throw it out: Links in email, tweets, posts, and online advertising are often the way cybercriminals compromise your computer. If it looks suspicious, even if you know the source, it’s best to delete or, if appropriate, mark as junk email.
- Get savvy about Wi-Fi hotspots: Limit the type of business you conduct and adjust the security settings on your device to limit who can access your machine.
- Protect your $$: When banking and shopping, check to be sure the websites you visit are security enabled. Look for web addresses with “https://” or “shttp://”, which means the site takes extra measures to help secure your information. “Http://” is not secure.
- Be Aware of Holiday Shopping Gimmicks: Be mindful of holiday shopping efforts to lure you. Cyber crooks will adjust to the holiday season, trying to get you to click through to deals that may appear too good to be true. They may also try to trick you by sending emails that something has gone wrong with an online purchase.
Be Web Wise:
Know the Seller: Research online retailers before a first time purchase from a merchant (or auction seller) new to you. Search to see how others have rated them, and check their reviews. Do these things even if you are a return customer, as reputations can change.
- Stay current. Keep pace with new ways to stay safe online. Check trusted websites for the latest information, and share with friends, family, and colleagues and encourage them to be web wise.
- Think before you act: Be wary of communications that implores you to act immediately, offers something that sounds too good to be true, or asks for personal information.
- Back it up: Protect your valuable work, music, photos, and other digital information by making an electronic copy and storing it safely.
Be a Good Online Citizen:
- Safer for me more secure for all: What you do online has the potential to affect everyone – at home, at work and around the world.
- Practicing good online habits benefits the global digital community.
- Post only about others as you have them post about you.
- Help the authorities fight cyber crime: Report stolen finances or identities and other cybercrime to www.ic3.gov (Internet Crime Complaint Center), the Federal Trade Commission at http://onguardonline.gov/file-complaint (if it’s fraud), and to your local law enforcement or state attorney general as appropriate.