COLUMBUS (WCMH) – If you’re planning to shop online for Cyber Monday deals, how do you know your personal information is safe?
Cybersecurity experts warn consumers that they can be a target of hackers and costly digital scams.
“If I’m trying to steal from 10,000 people, if I can get one percent of those folks to respond, that could be a nice payday,” said Mike Moran, president of Affiliated Resource Group in Dublin which specializes in cybersecurity. “They’re going to get more sophisticated; they’re going to get more realistic.”
He believes holiday shoppers online today are at a bigger risk of falling victim to cybercriminals than they were five years ago.
“Mainly because of the fact that there are significantly more options and there are significantly more risks,” Moran said.
To enhance your internet security, Moran suggests you compile a list of all the websites you frequently visit.
“Maybe it’s a good idea to change your password and change it to something valuable instead of ‘password123’ or ‘Mike17,’” he said.
Moran also recommends you shop at trusted e-commerce sites and be wary of email offers that ask you to click on links.
“You get an email, it looks like it’s legitimate, it’s referencing a Google Drive, you click on the Google Drive link, and all of a sudden it infects your computer within 10 minutes with ransomware,” Moran said.
And if you do click on a suspicious link, Moran said to immediately check the web address before purchasing from a fraudulent site.
“Make sure that when you look at the URL: is there the little lock that it’s a secure site? Is it the actual website for the company you’re buying things from?” he said.
If logging on to the internet outside your home, Moran recommends using a virtual private network (VPN) rather than public Wi-Fi to minimize your risk.
“Most people today on their cellular plan have a hotspot that is there,” he said. “Use that.”
And when shopping online, Moran said it’s always safer to use a credit card since the fraudulent activity is easier to dispute. That doesn’t go for all transactions, however.
“If I’m using a debit card, I should be checking my balance every other day at the bank,” he said.
Moran believes scammers will continue to find innovative ways to steal money or personal information online, so it is important for consumers to protect all of their devices.
“That’s not meant to scare people,” he said. “You just got to be vigilant.”