There’s no time like Christmastime to remind you just how important broadband internet is in rural communities. It allows us to share the festivities with friends and family, even if they’re far away, and find that perfect gift with just a few clicks.
These days many Americans even prefer to skip the madness of Black Friday for the convenience of finding Cyber Monday deals. But while the ease of bargain hunting in your pajamas is undeniable, it’s also important to know the risks involved with making internet purchases.
When you can’t find what you’re looking for at a local shop, take a few precautions to protect yourself while shopping online.
- Buy from a site you trust: A popular tactic among hackers is to set up fake shopping websites that can infect your computer with a virus the moment you open the page or can collect your payment information at checkout. If you notice strange URLs, broken language or discounts that seem too good to be true, your best bet is to stay away.
- Use a secure connection: Publicly available Wi-Fi can be a great thing, but its security limitations make it a risky way to shop online. Networks that aren’t password-protected make it easy for someone to access your internet activity. If you’re shopping, that means hackers can intercept passwords, emails and even payment information.
- Keep your computer updated: Most viruses take advantage of out-of-date software to access personal information, so simply making sure you have the most recent version of your browser and other programs can go a long way toward protecting you.
- Buy on a mobile device: Mobile apps have become one of the safest ways to buy online for one simple reason: It takes more work to hack them. While a cybercriminal can design one virus to infect visitors to multiple sites, they have to design a specific attack for each app. That extra hassle means mobile apps tend to be safer than websites, and every major retailer has one.
- Use credit instead of debit: If you get stuck in a fraudulent online transaction when using a debit card, getting your money back can be difficult since it comes directly from your checking account. If you use a credit card, that money belongs to the bank. Not only can you be sure the bank will do everything it can to protect itself, but also if you report a fraudulent transaction in a timely manner, you won’t be on the hook.