The holiday season is here, and that means consumers will be opening their wallets to gear up for parties, gift exchanges, and family gatherings— and an increasing amount of this spending is being done online. A survey conducted by UPS found that 2016 marked the first year where consumers reported making more purchases online than they did offline, at 51%; this is up from 48% in 2015 and 47% in 2014.
It’s easy to understand why so many of us have embraced online shopping: It’s easy, convenient, and far less stressful than cramming into a crowded mall or lining up outside a store at 3 a.m. in eight-degree weather. Unfortunately, online shopping has also opened up consumers to cyber crimes. While consumers scour online shopping sites for deals on gifts and Christmas decor, cybercriminals lurk behind the scenes, ready to harvest credit card information and personal data.
I spoke with Santosh Varughese, President and CEO of Cognetyx, about what consumers can do to stay safe from cybersecurity threats while shopping online. Here’s the insight he shared with me:
1. Make Sure Your Devices Are Up To Date And Have Anti-Virus Protection
The first step to protecting yourself from cyber crimes is to ensure that all of your devices, whether a desktop, laptop or cellphone, are kept up to date. New cyber threats emerge daily, and OS and software updates often can address them. This includes updating your web browsers—something that’s easy to overlook.
No computer should be without anti-virus protection (not even Macs). Preferably, your anti-virus software should include additional cyber attack protection, such as firewalls and spam filtering.
2. Secure Your Home Network
Most people don’t change the default passwords their devices are shipped with. These default passwords are widely available online. Armed with this information, hackers are able to take control of peoples’ routers and other smart devices, often without their knowledge, that are then used to launch a massive cybersecurity attack.