The online shopping boom continues at a cracking pace, both in Hong Kong and around the world. More and more of us are embracing the variety and convenience that it offers. But have you stopped to consider the issue of internet security, and some of the risks of purchasing directly from websites? From phishing attacks to identity theft and other online scams – even just accidentally leaking personal information or bank account details – there is plenty that can go wrong. This is why an easy-to-use VPN service and other security tools provided by the likes of NordVPN can be a great addition to your internet setup. For more food for thought, consider these five key issues around safe online shopping.
#1 HTTP vs HTTPS
Having a gut feeling about the safety of a website will only you get you so far. Thankfully, there are some visible signs that can help as a guide. One is to check if the online store you’re visiting uses HTTPS. The extra ‘S’ at the end stands for ‘secure’; if you can see it in the URL at the top of the page, it means the admin of the website has implemented basic TLS encryption as a security step. It’s not a guarantee of 100% security, of course, but it’s a start!
#2 Are you at the right online store?
Just because you know the name of the brand you’re looking for, doesn’t mean the website for that brand is the first one you stumble upon. Always check that you’re on the correct online store before you enter any personal information as part of the check-out process. It’s easy enough for hackers and spammers to redirect you to a site that looks like the one you’re seeking but is in fact a fake. So, scrutinise the URL to make sure it’s the precise one you need. If something doesn’t look right, shut the tab and move on!
#3 Don’t use public Wi-Fi for shopping
Entering all your bank details from the comfort of home is okay (provided you’ve found the brand’s legitimate website!); however, doing this on a public Wi-Fi network isn’t such a good idea. These networks can have poor security and be a target for hackers looking for a way in. The same goes for public computers (in libraries, for example).
If you don’t have an option and you simply must use the public Wi-Fi for a purchase, be sure to use a VPN. Doing so provides an encrypted connection to protect your data.
#4 Keep an eye on your bank card
Today, more than ever, it’s important to monitor your bank statements, so you can track your purchases. Is the correct store listed in the entry on your statement? And is it the price you paid for the item? It’s another way to help you spot if scammers are at work; but it’s also a way of ensuring that legitimate stores aren’t changing prices or adding hidden fees. If something doesn’t match up, get in touch with them. Also, if you have a banking app, allowing push notifications from the app lets you follow any payment you’ve made.
#5 Use passwords wisely
We’ve all heard jokes about the increasingly complicated passwords required by websites these days. But it makes sense – why give hackers an easier job? The problem, of course, is that it can be tricky to remember all your different passwords when you’re trying to make them unique and complex. This is where a password manager comes in. NordPass is one example of safe way to store all your passwords in a single place, then log in to your apps and websites with a single click.
As you can see, there are plenty of inherent risks in online shopping. But there’s also action you can take to secure your digital privacy before you click on the check-out cart, from being savvy about passwords to ensuring your credit card details are encrypted with a VPN. Take these on board – and happy shopping!
For more information on NordVPN, click here.
Written in collaboration with NordVPN.
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