Since the internet found its way into most households, e-commerce has been an integral part of it. It has become the go-to for several exclusive products you can’t obtain from your local brick-and-mortar store. It’s also why the global supply chain has grown to the lengths of providing shipments and jobs to such a large portion of the population.
However, as with most aspects of the internet, there are a few security-related issues that you must watch out for. With a new age of digital devices and virtual technology right around the corner, here’s a short guide that shall keep you up with what cybersecurity risks our online shopping habits show. You’ll learn how to minimize them as well.
Emerging Trends with Online Shopping
The advancement of technology has a direct impact on the trends you observe in online shopping. A few notable trends that have emerged in recent months include the following.
Increased Smartphone Use
More people are using smartphones to shop online while reserving their PCs for work or recreational purposes. Experts have often observed similar trends as more stores optimize for smartphone screens.
Automated and Virtual Stores
As more users shift online, there is more focus on how corporations cater to them. That’s why you can observe stores like Walmart and Costco attempting to create a virtual store experience. Users can soon use VR to shop the aisles as if they were shopping in person, minus the hectic traffic schedule, and check out items without any trouble.
Automated stores are also becoming more commonplace. Target already has a self-checkout system in most locations. In Texas, McDonald’s has built the world’s first fully automatic fast-food outlet. In the coming years, you can expect a similar trend for deliveries and reservations.
Virtual Wallets and Pay Later Services
The temporary shortage of funds in your account is no longer an obstacle to online shopping. You can utilize virtual wallets and pay later services to make payments, with a credit line that you can refresh later.
Cybersecurity Risks Associated with Online Shopping
Given the convenience of browsing and payments online, several hazards can harm your finances and privacy in the long run. Here’s a list of a few prominent ones you need to consider.
Fake Payment Gateways
While a website may display several exhibits of great deals, there is a possibility that it’s a trick for unsuspecting users. Various malicious websites can offer you genuine products at unbelievable prices. But, once you make the payment, you don’t hear from them again.
It’s hard to differentiate them from genuine websites, as several entrepreneurs often use such offers for their initiatives. Moreover, it’s hard to pursue them legally as the amount involved in refunds is usually never worth the effort. So, look for signs that the online store is fake.
Cookies and Other Trackers
Websites apply cookies and register anonymous user information to measure their performance. Still, a few can use those methods to track you online and invade your digital privacy. Your personal information can be far more valuable than your savings, as removing it after a leak or blocking it from being used for nefarious purposes is challenging.
Malicious Links and Malware Packets
Popular e-commerce platforms have a significant issue with hyperlinks that can take you to unsecured domains. Those can also be used to insert viruses into your system, something that is a known vulnerability in smartphones.
How To Protect Yourself When Shopping Online
Now that you’re aware of the cybersecurity issues of extensive online shopping, here are the ways to protect against them.
Use a Reliable Antivirus
Despite having a genuine Windows or Mac firewall, it’s best to augment it with a reliable antivirus that uses AI to counter digital threats. Those get more frequent and comprehensive updates that better prepare your system and warn you of suspicious links and incoming malware.
Secure Your Private Information
You need not provide your private information to shop online. You can use a fake name to conduct your transactions, as it’s not usually related to your credit score. It helps to use a PO box or a friend’s address to collect any deliveries, which protects any website from tracking your precise address.
Furthermore, using debit cards or online banking in your name can relay sensitive information to online stores. Instead, you can increase your security by using virtual credit cards. Those can be blocked conveniently for suspicious transactions, and you can get a chargeback in case of a scam.
Carefully Examine the Terms of the Payments
Utilize a VPN
If you intend to use public Wi-Fi networks to shop online, it will help to activate a Virtual Private Network (VPN) beforehand. It encrypts all your incoming/outgoing data packets, making them nearly impossible to intercept. Moreover, after you download VPN services, they can change your IP address to other regions to obtain better deals on specific products.
Online shopping has become more transparent, but there are still threats that you must watch out for. We hope this guide assists in understanding what cybersecurity risks our online shopping habits show and how to counter them. Although they are challenging to detect, a few steps can minimize the risks substantially.