Security: 5 Habits to Adopt for Online Shopping

Vigilance is required as soon as we navigate on the Web, and even more so when we seek to make payments online, whether it be to pay for a food order, a little shopping pleasure, or a reservation for an upcoming vacation. So to avoid being targeted by hackers, and thus prevent unpleasant surprises, here are 5 reflexes to adopt to secure your online shopping as best as possible.

Booking a train ticket or a hotel room, treating yourself to concert tickets, ordering groceries, or even buying a gift from anywhere and at any time, in just a few clicks… Online purchases are undeniably one of the most practical advances that the Internet has offered us. Unfortunately, the downside is that they are not without danger. Malicious minds indeed see it as a golden opportunity: to steal our banking information away from all eyes, through an invisible backdoor hidden from everyone.

Whether by hacking the connection or setting up a fraudulent site from scratch, hackers are very ingenious at luring us into their traps. Therefore, extreme caution is always necessary, especially when navigating the Web in general, and especially when we are asked for the famous credit card number. Here are 5 reflexes to adopt for safe online shopping.

Beware of fraudulent websites

First of all, it cannot be repeated enough, be sure to ensure the authenticity of the site on which you plan to make a purchase. Because as mentioned above, fraudulent sites, which almost perfectly copy 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 it only takes one extra letter to make it look like an authentic domain name, but also on the rest of the page, assuming that, in principle, an official site will not have spelling mistakes. In general, be wary of unknown sites and especially do not click on links sent by email or SMS, nor those that appear as advertisements on other online sites or social networks. There is nothing better, in fact, 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 taking out your credit card to finalize your online purchases, make sure that the URL of the page where you will enter your banking information begins with “https”, and not just “http”. Both constitute the data transfer protocol (HyperText Transfer Protocol), the first ensuring the encryption of this data: the “s” indicates that the connection is secure (“Secured” in English).

You will notice that a small padlock sometimes appears in front of this “https”, is a further 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 find that the URL of the site on which you want to make a purchase indicates only “http” at the beginning, walk away.

Do not save your credit card

Just as we are advised to memorize our passwords to facilitate future connections to our accounts, Internet browsers offer, once we have made an online purchase, to save our banking information for the site in question. This can be a tempting solution at first, especially when it comes to an e-commerce site where you frequently shop…

No need to fetch your wallet, enter the long series of numbers that make up the credit card number, nor its expiration date and its 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 hacking. This is why the CNIL (National Commission for Information Technology and Civil Liberties) does not recommend this practice, whether in a browser or even within a mobile application.

Opt for strong authentication

Online shopping has become widespread in the last two decades, and banking institutions have deployed solutions to allow customers to secure their online payments as much as possible. Just as to access your bank’s personal space, you are offered to perform what is called “strong authentication,” sometimes “double authentication,” before validating purchases.

This can be translated by an SMS indicating a code to enter on the site in question, or a notification inviting you to confirm the transaction on the bank’s official application. In any case, the idea is to use an intermediary that only you can consult, your smartphone. A very effective way to verify that it is indeed you who wish to book a ticket for the Bahamas or order a new pair of slippers, and not an impersonator.

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. But while it is indeed possible to indulge in online shopping at any time, even from your bed, we still advise you to pay attention to where you are… And especially to the network to which you are connecting.

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

Source: CNIL

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