Tips & Advice

Online shopping made easy (and safe!)

Nancy Nunziati, 15 November 2018

Protect your privacy and your cash with these 7 online shopping tips.

Time to sound the bells, blow the horns, and throw wide the gates — holiday shopping is upon us.

The action really gets underway when the Black Friday deals begin, which some retailers are kicking off as early as Wednesday, November 21st this year. The deals typically extend through Cyber Monday, with some this year going all the way to Wednesday, November 28th. All in all, 2018 holiday shoppers are looking at roughly a full week of special holiday pricing.

Instead of rushing to the malls, shoppers today rush to their screens, jumping into the online shopping frenzy. The only buzzkill to this holly-jolly good time is that bad actors of all types — from greedy advertisers to flat-out cybercriminals — anticipate this spike in online activity and hatch their own phishing scams and deceptive schemes to direct the digital cash flow their way. Treacherous imposters are everywhere you turn, from fake mobile apps and phony websites posing as real businesses to malicious emails pretending to be your package’s shipping info or a holiday card from a friend.

But you can avoid all the havoc and hassle with these tips for a safer, saner online shopping experience.

TIP 1: Always go “official”

This is the most obvious tip, in light of all the fakes that abound. For apps: Only download apps from official app stores.  And, for websites: always type the URL yourself in the address bar so you know you are on the official page. You’ll also notice that most if not all official sites use https to ensure an encrypted connection between you and them.   

shopping-blog-https

TIP 2: Avoid phishing scams

Look at every holiday-themed and savings-themed email in your inbox with a suspicious eye, and never click on any links inside them as it could be an email phishing scam.  Instead, if you see something in an email that is enticing, follow tip #1 and type in the URL into a web browser yourself.

TIP 3: Compare prices

Before you hit the digital checkout line, open a new tab and look up that same item in other stores to see if the price is similar. If you haven’t heard of the brand before, look up comparable products by leading brands to see if the prices are similar. If your item is drastically lower than the others, you need to wonder why.   If a deal is too good to be true, it probably is one to avoid.

TIP 4: Stay anonymous - Use a VPN

When you do, you cruise the cyber highway in a rental car with tinted windows. It’s an encrypted connection that hides your IP address and keeps holiday predators from seeing any personal data about you, which prevents them from profiling you. Your login credentials, your banking details, and your identity stay protected.

 

TIP 5: Cut out the clutter and hassle with an ad blocker

The above tips are for your protection, and this one is for your sanity. Certain security tools can eliminate the more stressful and tedious aspects of holiday shopping. Using an adblocker will save you the extended loading time and the headache of being constantly inundated with ads, most reminding you of previous products you’ve viewed. You’ll be more focused, your pages will load faster, and you might even find yourself humming “Joy to the World,” so full of good cheer you’ll be.

TIP 6: Do not store payment info

As you visit site after site, and especially as you make purchase after purchase, you will be peppered with requests to start new accounts and save your credit card info. We strongly suggest you deny these requests, particularly during holiday shopping. You want to share, save, and store as little personal info as possible on the internet.

Tip 7: Limit thyself

Use a credit card with a credit limit. That way, if your payment details are compromised, the damage will be as limited as the card is. Better yet, use a card you’ve earmarked for holiday shopping only. A quick look at the card’s statement will show you if anything’s amiss.

Avast Secure Browser makes it easy

Avast cybersecurity experts designed the web browser they themselves wanted to use, then made it free to the public. It’s packed with useful tools, and it covers most of the tips above.

Among its features are:

  • Adblock
  • Anti-phishing security
  • Anti-tracking security
  • Anti-fingerprinting security

It also has Bank Mode, a feature that protects your cash by creating an isolated desktop session for all payment or banking transactions, making it impossible for you to be recorded or tracked.

Santa probably doesn’t need much cybersecurity up in the North Pole. Sources indicate his team functions on analog technology. But down here in the land of mere mortals who shop at the great online marketplace, extra protection throughout the season is a good thing.

Keep your holidays merry and bright by keeping your security robust and tight. Download Avast Secure Browser for free and you’ll be on your merry way in no time.

Download Avast Secure Browser