By Rajesh Maurya
It is vital to note that the day is named ‘safer‘ and not ‘safe’ Internet Day because no technology as powerful as the Internet will ever be entirely safe in this present state of digital affairs.
The Internet wasn’t designed with security in mind. To make things worse, we forget that our digital foot prints are much bigger than what we think. The amount of sensitive data out there makes each individual vulnerable to ever-evolving threats.
Easy tips to follow while online shopping or making digital transactions:
1. Avoid making transactions on non-personal computers: Never make purchases in Cybercafés, your workplace or in a friend or neighbor’s house. These computers can keep web cookies, record your online behavior, save your password and expose you to public Wi-Fi networks that can be hacked.
2. Have anti-malware and anti-virus software and keep it up-to-date: If you are a “bargain shopper” who is always looking online for deals, this advice is especially relevant. E-commerce websites can include pop-up windows, spyware advertisements and automatic downloads. One wrong click and your computer can get a virus. Routinely updating your software mitigates the risk of infection because new threats enter the cybersphere every day.
3. Check credit card and bank account activity frequently during active shopping periods: The more you use your card, the more likely you are to have its information stolen. However, if you get a phone call from your bank asking you to identify yourself do not share personal information. It is safer to check your online banking page to see if there is an issue with your card. You can also use a credit reporting agency to receive alarms about suspicious activity in your bank accounts, or even a notice if someone takes out a loan or tries to make a financial transaction in your name.
4. Leave websites that require more than the standard transaction information: To make a purchase you usually provide your name, address and credit card number. Any website that asks for any other details, like your social security number or IRS return number, is most likely fraudulent.
5. Avoid ‘too good to be true’ offers: Never download coupons and gift cards or click on “deal” links provided in unknown emails and websites. These could contain malware and be used to steal your personal information.
If you receive a code for a website to apply once your purchase is in the shopping cart that should be legitimate and is the safest ways for companies to apply discounts and coupons. Major retail outfits know this and use this technique more and more often for their buyers.
5. Big retailers Vs. small businesses
There are two very common attacks on web application services that veandors use to have ecommerce websites. Cross-site scripting and Structured Query Language (SQL) injection are attacks where hackers write commands in the url of a site to confuse the web server. When this happens, the website reveals stored data, which can include transaction history, credit card information, addresses and client profile databases.
Most well-known online retailers have mechanisms in place to protect user information, records, transactions, etc. These key components include next generation firewalls, intrusion prevention systems, anti-malware and anti-virus gateways and web application firewalls, to name a few. Unfortunately, small businesses do not have the budget to outsource e-commerce security, exposing their websites to breaches. Thus, it is safer to shop at know retail outfits when making online purchases. If you are making a purchase through a smaller online company, make sure that the traffic is encrypted (HTTPS) and has some type of third-party commerce verification seals to assure a legitimate transaction.
The bottom line is that everyone should know it is impossible to be 100 percent protected, unless you consider complete Internet abstinence as a solution. However, if we implement safe internet practices we can all play our little part and make the Internet Safer.
Emerging Threats which users need to be aware of while using the internet:
Fortinet is starting to see a wave of new threats that are likely to begin targeting consumers.
n Ransomware – Last year we saw the rise of targeted attacks that take over or encrypt computers or networks and demand the payment of ransom for them to be released. We anticipate that this sort of ransom-based attack will be expanded to include connected home devices, such as alarm systems, refrigerators, cars, utility meters, etc.
n Stolen online accounts – We have seen many stolen or spoofed online accounts that either already belong to someone else, or were opened using stolen credentials. Regularly check your accounts and track your bank and credit card statements for unauthorized purchases.
(The writer is Regional Vice President, India & SAARC for Fortinet)
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