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Cyber Monday Security Tips Cyber Security Tips Tech Tips

10 Essential Tips to Protect Your Privacy & Safety while Navigating the Online Shopping Season

Guard yourself against cyber criminals by applying these security practices on Cyber Monday and on any other day.

As the online shopping season gains momentum, utilize these 10 essential tips to uphold your privacy and safety, allowing you to shop with peace of mind.

  1. Employ an ad blocker – Advertisements not only track your every move, gathering ample information about your habits, but they also serve as a significant origin of malicious links and deceptive content on the internet. By utilizing an ad blocker, not only does your browsing become safer, but it also enhances speed and reduces bandwidth usage. Two recommended options include uBlock Origin and Ghostery.
  2. Opt for private browsing or incognito mode – Protect your shopping habits and interests from trailing you across websites (and potentially exposing your gift purchases to others who share your device, yay!). Activate private browsing in Firefox or incognito mode in Chrome to block tracking cookies, allowing the internet to erase your online footprint.
  3. Enhance your browser’s privacy features – The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) offers a browser extension called Privacy Badger, designed to automatically make optimal choices during browsing, preserving your privacy by blocking unseen trackers.
  4. Avoid using a single account across multiple platforms – While the convenience of using the “Sign in with Facebook” or “Sign in with Google” option on e-commerce sites is tempting, taking a few extra minutes to establish a new login offers enhanced privacy by not sharing all of the sites you shop at with these major tech giants. 
  5. Utilize a guest login when available – Besides enabling an account from other websites, many platforms provide the option to use a guest login rather than creating a new account. This proves to be an excellent choice if you don’t anticipate needing technical support or engaging in recurring business. With fewer passwords, reduced personal details, and less risk in the event of a security breach, it simplifies your online experience.
  6. Don’t save card details – Numerous e-commerce sites may automatically opt to store your credit card information in your profile for the sake of “convenience” (or in the hope that you’ll make a repeat purchase). However, if it’s not absolutely necessary, it’s advisable to refrain from allowing them to store your credit card details. They can’t lose what they don’t possess, so exercise caution in providing such information unless essential.
  7. Use Single-Use Card Numbers – Numerous financial institutions now provide temporary or one-time-use credit card numbers. By accessing the app on your phone or through your browser, you can obtain a single-use disposable credit card number, which helps prevent card fraud and tracking, especially when merchants share card processors. In some cases, you may even have the option to specify a card limit for each temporary number, adding an extra layer of protection to your account.
  8. Always use credit, not debit – It’s crucial for everyone to be cautious about overspending during the holidays, and it’s best to leave the debit card at home. Credit cards offer significantly more protection against online fraud, placing you in a stronger position during disputes. If a dispute arises, you can simply withhold payment while contesting the charge, avoiding the risk of criminals directly draining your bank account of your hard-earned cash.
  9. Be cautious of direct messages via social media/chat apps – With the advancement of generative AI technology, creating an entirely fake online store to entice people into sharing personal information and payment data has become alarmingly easy. It’s safest to shop at well-established sites or those personally recommended by friends and family. Many unsolicited messages often lead to data collection or theft.
  10. Avoid clicking on suspicious deals or emails from unfamiliar businesses, as they may be phishing attempts to trick you into visiting malicious websites.

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