Safe Shopping Online: How to Avoid Scams and Fraud
As the holiday season approaches, a wave of online shopping activity is set to sweep through workplaces. With the allure of deals and discounts around events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the temptation to shop during work hours is stronger than ever. According to research from OpenX and Harris Poll, 69% of people admitted to shopping online during work hours, rising to 81% among millennials.
This shift towards using work devices and networks for personal shopping poses substantial cybersecurity risks. Activities like browsing unsecured websites or using non-work email addresses for shopping can inadvertently expose corporate networks to cyber threats. Such actions heighten the risk of phishing attacks, malware infections, and other security breaches. Additionally, the common practice of reusing passwords across shopping and work accounts can lead to compromised work data if these passwords are intercepted.
This blog post will explore the risks associated with online shopping and offer strategies to safeguard both personal and professional digital devices.
How Do Attackers Target Online Shoppers?
Cybercriminals have sophisticated methods for exploiting online shoppers:
- Intercepting insecure transactions: Transactions over the internet can be seized by cybercriminals if they're not properly encrypted. This is akin to someone intercepting a message that wasn't sent via a secure channel. When payment information is transmitted over an unsecured connection (indicated by "http" rather than "https" in the web address), it's vulnerable to being captured by someone with the right tools and malicious intent.
Compromising vulnerable systems: Cyber attackers constantly scan for unprotected computers to infect with malware. This can give them access to everything on the machine, from personal information to login credentials. Ensuring that your computer has updated antivirus software and a robust firewall is akin to securing the doors and windows of your business.
- Creating fraudulent websites and emails: Scammers create fake websites and emails that mimic legitimate businesses to fool you into giving them sensitive information. These can be particularly convincing and often use only slightly misspelled or reconfigured URLs and email addresses to trick the unwary (e.g., an email address ending in "@armstrongtransportgroup.com" instead of the correct "@armstrongtransport.com"). It's crucial to double-check the URL and the sender's email address before clicking on any links or providing any personal or financial information.
How Can You Protect Yourself?
Protective measures are essential to ensure your online shopping experience is secure:
- Select reputable vendors: Research before you buy. Ensure that the website you're purchasing from is legitimate and has a solid reputation. This can involve checking reviews from other customers, verifying contact information on the site, and ensuring they have a professional presence online.
- Ensure information encryption: Look for the 'https' in the web address and the padlock icon in the address bar, which indicate that the site uses encryption to protect data transmission. This encryption is a safeguard that scrambles data as it travels between your computer and the vendor's server, making it much more difficult for unauthorized parties to intercept.
- Handle emails with caution: Phishing emails are commonly used to steal information. They often look like they're from a legitimate business but will ask you to provide sensitive information or click on a link that takes you to a fraudulent website. Always verify the authenticity of an email before responding, and never provide personal information unless you're certain of the recipient's identity.
- Opt for credit card payments: These transactions often offer better protection against fraud than debit cards. This is because credit cards typically have a limit on the cardholder's liability for unauthorized transactions, and most issuers have strong fraud prevention and detection policies.
- Configure app settings for security: When using shopping apps, it's important to understand the permissions you're granting and how the app uses your data. Adjust app settings to maximize privacy and security, and only download apps from reputable sources.
Integrating Digital Security in Your Business
Your personal online activities, such as holiday shopping, can become vulnerabilities—not just for you but for your customers and partners. Implementing robust digital security practices is crucial, and maintaining awareness during the holiday shopping frenzy is essential. Your business is only as strong as its weakest link, which could be a single unsecured online purchase in today's digital age. Stay vigilant, stay informed, and let your online shopping practices reflect the same professionalism and caution you apply to your business.
Speaking of business, are you considering a switch to a new agency partnership in the new year? Armstrong offers comprehensive training and support to help you maintain the highest security standards in your operations, including advanced email security and rigorous access controls to our proprietary TMS, ATGFr8. Here, digital security and business growth go hand in hand; visit our website to talk with a team member about how we can help you take your career to new heights.
About Vamsi Tirnati
Tirnati serves as Armstrong’s Chief Technology Officer, bringing over 20 years of experience in transportation, logistics, and technology. With a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering, a master’s in Computer Science, and an MBA, Tirnati is an expert in integration, systems development life cycle, and enterprise software.