If you’re one of the 224 million Americans who engage in shopping on the Internet, then you should consider different ways to protect your data when making online purchases. Computer systems are always becoming more sophisticated, but hackers are also finding new ways to infiltrate these systems. The best way to protect your data is to eliminate as many opportunities for hackers to steal your information as possible.
- Avoid Public Wireless Networks
It might be convenient to use free public Wi-Fi wireless networks to make purchases, but these networks are typically unsecured. A secure wireless network will have a firewall set up and require a password to access. If a network isn’t encrypted, then a hacker may be able to intercept the data.
Encrypted networks are safe because the data packets are only readable by the receiver. Programmers regularly test and debug these networks to ensure they are functioning correctly.
- Set up a PO Box
Companies may need to store your card number, but you can also set up a PayPal account to specifically handle online transactions. If you put a ton of personal information online, then there’s a good chance that companies will archive data. According to a Forbes article, the archiving of personal data is the most significant privacy risk for the average business.
Companies tend to back up and archive this data because they can use it for data mining and marketing purposes. Significant business data breaches are widespread, and hackers are finding more sophisticated ways to infiltrate networks. Recent breaches include:
- Accounts of 500 million guests at Marriot
- 146 million Equifax users
- 500 million Yahoo accounts in 2014
These trends may seem troubling, but you can mitigate some of the risk by keeping as much personal data offline as possible. Many people use PO Boxes to keep their personal address offline. This will stop hackers from sniffing the data. A manhattanks post officePO box is very affordable. PO boxes are also held at a secure location. Security cameras monitor post offices and PO boxes, so you don’t have to worry about someone stealing your package.
- Make Sure the Site is Secure
HTTPS sites use SSL certificates. These connections are encrypted, so hackers will use a string of letters if they try to intercept your connection to the site. You’ll know a website is using HTTPS encryption if you see a lock icon on the address bar. An IT developer’s job is to meet the needs of the customer, so the best way to improve a site’s security is to notify the developers that the site’s current setup may be lacking.
- Change Your Passwords Frequently
You should avoid using the same password repeatedly because it can be used to access multiple sites with your account information. You should also use complex passwords. Avoid saving the password information on your computer. It might be a good idea to rotate your passwords. Most people can only remember a few passwords at a time, so rotation may be better than consistently creating new strings.
You may want to consider setting up two-factor authentication on your PC or mobile device. Using this type of authentication will add an extra layer of protection because hackers may need an additional thumbprint or physical data key to verify the code. The actual password may be stored as a scrambled string of letters that is nearly impossible to crack.
- Avoid Suspicious Links and Emails
These are just five tips to keep you safe when you are shopping online. Make sure you follow these tips and enjoy a secure online shopping experience.