By Tony Larks, Vice President, Global Consumer Marketing, Trend Micro
Do you ever get the feeling the holidays are getting earlier each year? It certainly seems that as soon as the clocks go back, and we’ve had the last big commercial blow out of Hallowe’en, all eyes turn to the Festive break.It won’t be long before the decorations are up and the Christmas lights are switched on up and down every high street in the UK, and given the continued sluggish economy, it’s no surprise that retailers want as long as possible to persuade us to buy. Online retail has been outpacing its bricks and mortar rival for years now and the biggest name of all, Amazon.co.uk is claiming its busiest day will be on December 3 – the so-called “Cyber Monday.”
But before you draw the curtains and log on to check out some Christmas goodies, remember that online shopping has its risks too. E-commerce is a hugely popular industry these days – UK shoppers are forecast to spend around £57bn online this year – and where there is money and Internet users, there will always be cybercriminals trying to cash in.
The main risks for online shoppers lie in replying to unsolicited emails spoofed to appear to come from reputable retailers. Clicking through the links in these could lead unsuspected users to a phishing site designed to steal their credit card credentials. Other scam emails feature special offers or luxury goods at knock-down prices – the end goal again is to trick the user into giving away their details.
Remember, many fake sites and fraudulent buyers and sellers exist on the web and you won’t just arrive at them via a marketing email from a cybercriminal. It pays to stay alert, and follow these tips.
Top tips for safe shopping:
- Don’t shop on a public Wi-Fi connection. You may be snooped on by others accessing the same network. Save it for home time.
- At the payment stage, verify the security of your web site by looking for the following security assurances:
- Padlock in the lower right hand corner of the page.
- HTTPS in the browser bar.
- Or on a modern browser, a green address bar.
- Pay by credit card if possible as it will offer more protection in the event of fraud.
- Keep e-receipts and check credit card and bank statements to make sure they tally.
- Don’t follow any e-mail marketing message, even if it appears to come from a reputable retailer. It’s best to log-in separately to that retailer’s site.
- Ensure your PC is running a reputable, comprehensive cloud-based security software like Trend Micro Titanium 2013 which will prevent against phishing by blocking such sites so you can’t go there.
- Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t look right, stop shopping and do a bit of background on the site in question. They should at least have a physical address and contact number.
- On eBay or other similar platforms never pay money directly into a seller’s account or send a cheque. Use a third party payment provider such as PayPal, which offers greater protection against fraud.
Tony Larks works for Trend Micro and is guest blogging for the Fearless Web. The opinions expressed here are his own.