Online shopping at work: What are the dangers?

Lifestyle | 4 Apr |

Online shopping, while often convenient, can lead to increased exposure to cyber attacks. Some workplaces block access to online shopping sites, however, most companies allow employees to shop online during lunch break, because they realize it is faster for them to buy online than drive to a store during their break. This article will discuss the possible risks associated with shopping in the workplace and talk about how people and companies can avoid becoming a target of a cyber attack. We will also give some useful tips to facilitate safe shopping online.

Phishing Emails

Cybercriminals know that if a person is going to reveal credit card information in an email it is going to be to a bank or to an online retailer. When you buy something online, stores usually send a confirmation email. Online retailers also send a plethora of other emails, many of which are for promotions. Criminals will send out emails pretending to be from a reputable retailer when they’re just phishing for information. They’re looking for your passwords or your credit card number. The reality is that legitimate sources aren’t going to ask you for personal information over email. Any time you see an email asking for personal information, you should call the company directly to confirm that they sent you an email. Chances are the answer will be no.

Fake Sites and Reviews

Cybercriminals often set up fake sites to trick you into giving them confidential information. Sometimes, the fake site is a duplicate of a well-known retailer. These can look just like the real deal. Other times, they create a fake site for a fake store. Either way, they can be hard to spot. Often, the cybercriminals will write and spread around fake reviews. Consumers are much more likely to trust a product if they see positive reviews, so they use this to their advantage. When reading reviews, look for specificity. If all the reviews seem vague and non-specific, they could be fake. If there are fifty reviews and none of them say anything negative, that’s another red flag.

Malware

Another risk is malware. Sometimes, when you click on a link or download an attachment or another file, it unleashes a malicious software that infects your device and compromises your personal data. Never click on a link that looks suspicious. You have to trust your instincts here. Usually, if something looks suspicious, it is.

Man-in-the-Middle Attacks and Leaks

Man-in-the-middle attacks are another common issue. This is when a criminal positions themselves in the middle of a conversation between you and an application. Usually, they’re trying to either eavesdrop or impersonating the application. It can look like you’re having a normal exchange but you’re actually giving your information to a third party. This happens most often on unsecured WiFi networks. You also have to worry about data leaks. When you do give your information to a legitimate retailer, you still have to worry about the retailer. You don’t know what they are going to do with it. They usually won’t do anything intentionally harmful with the information they collect because it threatens their reputation. Still, data leaks are still common and can result in criminals gaining access to your confidential information.

Measure You Can Take to Shop Online More Safely

If you’re shopping at your workplace, you only want to shop at retailers you trust. This isn’t a good place to try out new online stores. If you shop at a store regularly, bookmark the website. This is safer than going through a search engine.

When you do shop with a new retailer, do ample research. Read reviews and analyze them closely. You want to make sure that the retailer is legitimate and not some kind of scam. Also, trust your gut when it comes to prices. Sometimes, if you think a price is too good to be true, it is. Cyber Monday sales, for example, can be really good, but no company is going to give their products away at a price so low they don’t make a profit. If you see a pair of Christian Louboutins for a $70, the product is probably a counterfeit.

Another measure you should take is double checking the passwords you use for your email account or any of shopping website. A weak password will put your data at risk. Passwords should be over 10 characters and random. Avoid short passwords that use words or numbers that are readily associated with you like family names and birth dates. Or you can use a reputable password generator, such as My Norton.

If your workplace uses public WiFi, you want to proceed with caution. Public WiFi is particularly vulnerable to cybercriminals. If you have to use public Wifi, use a VPN provider, too. The VPN will create an encrypted tunnel for your traffic, which will improve your security while on public WiFi. Use a high-quality VPN, like ExpressVPN.

Sometimes, shopping online at the workplace is unavoidable, but you have to stay alert and be smart about it. Criminals will do anything they can to steal your personal information, so you can’t give them any opportunities.

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