This Halloween, don’t let cybercriminals spook you

October 19, 2015 | By James Raymond

Halloween is around the corner – the festival that is known to be associated with overcoming fear through fun, frolic, and not to mention festival shopping. Halloween is first among the series of winter holidays that draw closer to Christmas and New Year, so it is natural to see the shopping spirit peak among buyers. And given the fact that almost everyone of us is hooked onto our smartphones nowadays, shopping has become easier because tiring trips to malls have been replaced by easy tapping on our mobile screens.

Halloween

But Halloween stands for spooky stuffs, and the world of online shopping isn’t an exception – above and beyond the ambit of shopping. However, cybercriminals are on a prowl to take advantage of the shoppers’ festive mood, and unless you take extreme caution, you might fall victim to their well devised scams.

Below, we share some general safety reminders on how to practice healthy internet habit and avoid being a victim of cybercrime.

Beware of what information you share online
When you are giving out your personal information in the online space, you are making yourself voluntarily available to people who have the finesse to misuse the data for their gains. It might be a website asking for your phone number in exchange for a reward point or a promotion to coax you into downloading their app for a freebie; but you will be in for a surprise when you come to know how skilfully the app makers can access your device and exploit your personal information.

As an example, just hink about how True Caller works. For those of you not familiar with the mobile app, it helps you put a name to an unknown number when you key in the number in the app. It’s surprisingly good, thanks to the huge pile of crowd-sourced data that it sits on. When you download it, it collects data off of your phone book and possibly sells it to third-party advertisers.

Choose safe payment gateways
This also applies to the kind of websites or apps you choose to shop with. There are a plethora of online businesses offering you attractive deals at incredibly low prices. But are they, really? These sites offer services ranging from next day shipping assurance to cash on delivery facility, so it’s hard for many of us to resist the temptation.
A little caution goes a long way, so make sure you are shopping with businesses that are reliable and use secure online payment methods. The ways to distinguish genuine from fly-by-the-night bogus businesses are the obvious signs like URL prefixed with http, website name that sounds unfamiliar and made-up, poor interface design, exaggerated claims, etc.

Be wary of public wi-fi networks
We can’t caution you to avoid using open wi-fi networks, although that is a sound advice. After all, who doesn’t like free wi-fi, right? Free internet definitely comes handy when you have to check you bank statement in a mall’s food court after a day of heavy shopping, or when you have to pay your electricity bill while being bored at transit in the airport lounge. But free also symbolizes risky, because criminal minds are on the loose at free zones like these to put a lasso on unsuspecting victims to reveal their valuable secrets.
Unless you are sure of a secure connection, don’t use a wi-fi network to carry out financial transactions or access your web mails. Also, be resolute about browsing only the sites encrypted with https:// connection to ensure you don’t drift to treacherous waters.

Don’t let IoT steal from you
Internet of Things (IoT) is an up and coming technology where several household devices like washing machine, refrigerator, thermostats, etc are connected to the internet for an enhanced ease of use. But cybercriminals have already mastered ways to sneak personal data from devices that count as IoT. Increased devices mean increased chances of encountering threats like identity theft.

Buying a new Smart TV? Make sure you update your password regularly, install new updates, and stay cautious. How about your car, that is connected to internet for a pleasurable driving experience? Make sure you look for secure connection while enjoying the luxury that IoT offers.

Digital is the new way of life, so maintaining digital diligence is extremely imperative at this crucial technology-meets-convenience juncture. As the society is learning the ropes of interacting with the virtual world, it’s only common sense to keep ourselves abreast of the safe practices and stay guarded against things that can potentially damage us. Precautions start with small gestures such as having an antivirus program in your device, or rethinking a click or a tap on a dubious-looking page.

We hope you find the above mentioned tips valuable towards being a smart shopper and apply more prudence in using the internet to make your holiday shopping enjoyable. Happy Halloween!

Internet security

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