The holidays have seen somewhat of a change in the shopping practices of consumers over the years. While many enjoy hunting for gifts in person, the evolution of the Internet has made it the choice method for some for making purchases. The online landscape has seen an increase in malware, scams, and other threats to privacy and security, however, and that means that some risks do come with the territory. Many of these are obstacles that people never had to endure when shopping in person at a store or mall, so there is room for education on the subject of safe online shopping.
Online shopping in the traditional sense, such as going to a manufacturer's or store's website, has some new company that opens up options for many users. Mobile devices are becoming more advanced and complex, and now offer a new avenue to shop on the go. A study conducted by the Mobile Marketing Association found that 59 percent of shoppers planned to use their mobile device to make purchases this holiday season.
Social networks are at an all-time high in terms of popularity as well, and are being seen as a great way to sell and market products. To show their increasing popularity in the facilitation of shopping, another study from Stamps.com found that 54 percent of online retailers planned to use social media to drive consumers to their sites.
As with many Internet environments, those that combine a lot of traffic with monetary transactions are an attractive target for hackers. Therefore, if you plan to use your mobile device or social media when making purchases this holiday season, you should proceed with caution. BitDefender, a provider of solutions in the Internet security arena, has come up with some tips that you should practice while shopping this holiday season.
Don't shop using public Wi-Fi
If your smartphone has Wi-Fi and you find a public network while on the go, do not use the network to make purchases or to enter personal information.
Look at the entire URL when shopping on a mobile device
Since mobile devices stress portability, they do not give the screen size advantages that a normal desktop or laptop would normally provide. If you are shopping on a mobile device, you may not be able to see the entire web address, or URL. Hackers may use this to their advantage and try to dupe you with a fraudulent URL that begins with a recognized store name but ends differently. Accessing such a URL could result in a redirect that lands you on a malicious site that contains malware.
Stay smart when being social
Social networks are a great way to interact with and make new friends, but they're becoming breeding grounds for malware and hackers too. Set your privacy settings to the highest level possible, and don't make personal information such as your home address, email address, or phone number public. Avoid clicking links that look fishy, either on wall posts or in private messages. Do not click links from strangers.
Also, when you see offers for free products or great discounts, avoid clicking their links. If an offer is too good to be true, it probably is. Hackers know that shoppers and consumers in general love free things and deep discounts, and they will title links with catch phrases to try to bait you so they can hijack your profile or distribute malware.
As long as you exercise proper caution when shopping via mobile devices and social networks, they are both great ways to make purchases and find deals. If you are careless in your shopping practices, however, your holidays may be ruined by hackers and others out there looking to profit from your mistakes.
For more, visit http://news.bitdefender.com/NW1883-en--Tips-for-Safe-Shopping-on-Mobile-Devices-and-Social-Media-Sites-this-Holiday-Season.html
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