Every day, about 1.5 million people worldwide are victims of cybercrimes, according to a recent report by international Internet security provider Symantec. Keep your-self safe with these tips:
Deal with reputable companies. The Smart Cookies’ Sandra Hanna says her rule of thumb is go with the crowd. Pick a site you know and that your friends are using. If you must buy through a small e-tailer, check its reputation by Googling it first, advises Dean Turner, director of the intelligence group for Symantec.
Seek out the ‘s.’ When you reach the point of payment or of sharing personal information, check that the web address begins with https: (not http:). The ‘s’ denotes a secure site. You may also find an icon such as a gold padlock on the top or bottom right of your browser window (not the website itself!) to verify the site is secure.
‘Password’ is not a good password. Try to use a random mix of letters and numbers or other characters, advises Turner, with one or more of them capitalized. ‘The more complicated, the better. But not so complicated that you can’t remember it.’ And do not use the same password for all of your regular shopping sites, in case you get hacked on one.
Use PayPal. When dealing with a site you don’t know well, consider using PayPal. ‘There’s more purchase protection,’ says Hanna. PayPal uses sophisticated encryption techniques and secure servers, so the merchant will never see your personal information directly. If you use your credit card to pay (rather than a debit card or a bank transfer), you can dispute the charges if you don’t receive the goods or they’re not as promised.
Keep track of purchases. Create a folder in your email to store and track transactions and receipts.
Make sure your computer’s security software is up to date. That means you have a fully functional firewall and antivirus software, and your machine is updated with important security patches.