December 3, 2018

How to Stay Safe Online Shopping During the Holidays

Hinojosa Jr., Gus

The holidays are here! I am a total nut when it comes to the holidays, especially Thanksgiving and Christmas. I love the get-togethers, gift-giving (and receiving), the whole shebang.

But… what I don’t love about the holidays?

How active the black hats get online.

So be sure to follow these steps to keep yourself safe when online shopping during the holidays.

For information on black hats and other types of hackers >>

  1. Avoid sketchy websites
  2. Make sure the site is SSL encrypted

I’ve already talked about the importance of SSL encryption but it’s worth mentioning again (and again… and again…). The higher the level of the SSL certificate the website owns, the safer it is (with DV being the weakest validation and EV being the most stringent). So, I encourage you to protect yourself by limiting your shopping to highly protected websites.

For more on SSL encryption >>

  1. Make sure the site has been updated recently

A website that hasn’t been updated in a while is a red flag. Updates mean security patches and improved functionality, so a website that hasn’t had these may not be as safe as a more recently updated site.

  1. Avoid public WiFi

This goes for everything from the obvious, such as shopping and mobile banking, to the not-so-obvious like surfing the web. Whether you’re at Starbucks, the mall, or getting an oil change, using public WiFi is a surefire way to put yourself in danger this holiday season.

This is because even if you aren’t doing something outright dangerous, a hacked WiFi network can allow someone to enter your device if you aren’t careful.

I’m not one to blame the victim; just because you’re being unsafe doesn’t give others the right to break the law and take advantage of you.

But avoiding dangerous situations will help keep you safe and in turn, make for a more pleasant holiday season.

  1. Use a credit card with fraud protection

If you’re unlucky enough to have your card information stolen, you’re probably going to wish you had used a credit card with a solid fraud protection plan.

Depending on your bank and the nature of the fraud, it may take a while to refund your card.

So be sure you’re protected, especially when you’re cyber shopping.

Stay safe and take advantage of your fraud protection plans.

  1. Check your credit report often

Even though the hackers are more active during the holidays, that doesn’t mean we have to let them get away with it.

Check your credit report often for new accounts or credit checks you don’t recognize and report the fraud the moment you notice it to prevent more damage from being done.

Catching the problem early on will prevent your identity from being used multiple times across different websites.


Did I miss anything?

Do you have any tips or tactics you use to keep yourself safe when you’re online shopping?

If you found this post helpful, please be sure to share it with your loved ones and acquaintances alike. Online security benefits us all and will only become more critical as technology’s presence grows in our community.

Get informed. Stay safe.

Stephanie Cristina Ortega
College: National University
Program: Master of Science in Cybersecurity and Information Assurance with a specialization in Ethical Hacking and Pen Testing