Security: 5 habits to adopt for online shopping

Vigilance is essential when navigating the Web, especially when making payments online, whether it’s for ordering food, shopping for pleasure, or booking a vacation. To avoid becoming the target of hackers and to prevent unpleasant surprises, here are 5 precautions to take to secure your online shopping.

Booking a train ticket or a hotel room, buying concert tickets, ordering groceries, or giving a gift from anywhere and at any time, in just a few clicks… Online shopping is undoubtedly one of the most convenient advancements that the Internet has given us. Unfortunately, the downside is that it is not without danger. Malicious individuals see it as an opportunity to steal our banking information out of sight, through a back door invisible to everyone.

Whether by hacking the connection or setting up a fraudulent site from scratch, hackers are ingenious in luring us into their traps. Therefore, it is always necessary to be extremely vigilant, generally when navigating the Web, and especially when we are asked for the famous credit card number. Here are 5 precautions to take to make secure online purchases.

Beware of fraudulent sites

First and foremost, it cannot be emphasized enough: be sure to verify the authenticity of the site on which you intend to make a purchase. As mentioned above, fraudulent sites, which almost perfectly imitate those of a well-known brand or even a government agency, are one of the preferred methods for hackers to steal banking information (and other personal data such as an address or phone number).

So pay attention to details, especially in the URL, where just one extra letter can make it appear to be an authentic domain name, but also on the rest of the page, assuming that an official site will not make spelling mistakes. In general, be wary of unknown sites and especially do not click on links sent by email or SMS, or those that appear as advertisements on other online sites or social networks. There is nothing better than going directly to the desired site.

Https: a letter to secure online purchases

This is the detail that is always better to check. Before pulling out your credit card to finalize your online purchases, make sure that the URL of the page where you will enter your banking information starts with “https,” and not just “http.” Both are part of the data transfer protocol (HyperText Transfer Protocol), with the former additionally ensuring the encryption of the data: the “s” indicates that the connection is secured.

You will notice that a small padlock sometimes appears in front of this “https,” which is an additional sign of an encrypted and therefore secure connection. However, keep in mind that while this symbol is not necessarily systematic, the presence of the letter “s” in the protocol is essential. If you see that the URL of the site on which you want to make a purchase indicates only “http” at the beginning, go elsewhere.

Do not save your credit card

Just as browsers suggest that we memorize our passwords to facilitate future logins to our accounts, Internet browsers, once we have made an online purchase, offer to save our banking information for the respective site. At first glance, this can be a seductive solution, especially when it comes to an e-commerce site where we frequently shop…

No need to fetch your wallet, enter the long series of numbers that make up the credit card number, or its expiration date and the famous “CVV” code: purchases can be made in a few clicks after saving this information on the Internet. But it is better to prioritize security over simplicity, because once saved, this personal data becomes accessible in the event of a hack. This is why the CNIL (National Commission for Information Technology and Civil Liberties) does not recommend this practice, either in a browser or even within a mobile application.

Opt for strong authentication

As online shopping has become widely popular in the last two decades, banking institutions have implemented solutions to allow clients to secure their online payments to the best of their ability. Just as with access to one’s personal bank account, it is proposed to perform what is called “strong authentication,” or sometimes “dual authentication,” before validating purchases.

This can be done through an SMS indicating a code to be entered on the respective site, or a notification prompting to confirm the transaction on the bank’s official application. In any case, the idea is to use an intermediary that only you can access, in this case, your smartphone. A very effective way to verify that it is indeed you, who wants to book a ticket to the Bahamas or order a new pair of slippers, and not an imposter.

Avoid public wifi networks

At the beginning of this article, we mentioned that the magic of the Internet allows us to make all kinds of purchases anytime, anywhere. While it is indeed possible to indulge in online shopping at any time, even from your bed, we still advise you to be careful of where you are… And more specifically, the network to which you are connected.

At home, you can make your online purchases in peace on your home wifi network, provided it is obviously well secured (by a strong password that is impossible to guess). Be wary, however, of so-called “public” wifi networks, whether it’s at a train station, airport, hotel, or cafe… These are by definition easily accessible, providing a wide open door to hackers who, by hacking the network, can intercept your personal data as soon as you connect to an account or make online purchases. So it’s better to restrain yourself and wait to have access to a secure network.

Source: CNIL

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