People love shopping online, and sales number reflect that, with sales growing at double-digit rates each year. In 2015, total online sales in the U.S. were close to $350 billion, with about 72% of purchases made on laptop or desktop PCs. Smartphone purchases made up 15% of total sales, with tablets accounting for around 12%. Thanks to increasingly sophisticated, user-focused design, it’s easier than ever to make purchases online, and logistics advances make sure items arrive quickly.
But unfortunately, ecommerce and logistics companies aren’t the only organizations in the marketplace applying advanced technology: Hackers are becoming increasingly sophisticated as well. They are aware of the billions in transactions taking place in cyber space and are constantly looking for a way to break through defenses and steal personal account information and data. Here are 10 cyber security tips you can use to thwart hackers and reduce your vulnerability as you shop online:
- Regularly update software to eliminate security weaknesses. Windows, Macs and all browsers regularly provide free software updates; take advantage of this to close security loopholes!
- When you’re done with using a website, log off and close your browser. This will prevent others from gaining access to your account.
- Always use strong passwords. Create passwords with combinations of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters like “@,” “%” or “#.”
- Don’t use personal information in your password. Never use your name, your partner’s name, your child’s name, your occupation, telephone number, birth date, etc., as a password.
- If you run a small business, hold your employees accountable for security. Employees must adopt safe security habits to keep their information and the company’s data protected. Consider putting a formal cyber-security policy into effect.
- Make sure that you use a PIN or password on your mobile phone. Mobile phones perform the same functions as desktops these days and deserve a similar level of protection.
- Use the “keystroke” method for making passwords. Choose a password and create a keyboard mapping system. One key to the left and one up would make the password “tinmen” change to “47gh2g,” which is much more secure.
- Disable pictures on your email and read it in plain text. When you do this, the sender will not be able to identify if you’ve opened the email.
- Don’t keep a record or list of your passwords in unencrypted files on your computer or phone. It can be a challenge to remember passwords, but keeping a list defeats the purpose.
- Have a disposable email address. Only give your actual email address out to who people who need it. This will help you avoid mass spam and keep your inbox clean.
Shopping online can help you find great bargains, but if you suffer a data breach, it can cost an incredible amount of time and money to repair it. Use these 10 tips to shop safely, and make sure you change your passwords frequently. Whether you go it alone or use a password manager, don’t forget these cyber safety tips to reduce your risk online.
Bill Carey is the Vice President of Marketing and Business Development at Siber Systems.com. With over 16 years’ marketing and business development experience, Bill guides the overall market strategy and business direction for Siber Systems. He has developed strategic agreements with top tier companies such as Yahoo and Symantec as well as directed the successful launch of Siber Systems’ products to market. Prior to joining Siber Systems, Bill founded IAG Marketing, and co-founded and served as Chief Operating Officer and Chief Marketing Officer of Sandbox.com. Bill has also held senior positions at PriceWaterhouse (now PricewaterhouseCoopers). Bill is a CPA (1993) and received a BBA from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA.