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Basic Security Practices for Online Consumers

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In today’s times, most of the digital transactions are through Internet and it’s imperative that consumers should be aware of the basic security practices. Read on to know more about it…

In the digital world, there are numerous websites catering to online shopping created by business companies for customers to explore products and services. But how do we know that these websites or online shopping portals are safe and secure? How safe is the personal information submitted on such online shopping web sites? How do we be assured that someone is not tracking our online transactions?

Fraudsters create spoof web sites that look deceptively similar to those of legitimate businesses with the aim to ‘phish’ out personal information and payment details submitted by unwary customers.

If one is conversant with the basic security practices, it’s not difficult to spot a fake and phishing web site.

Here are some guidelines to check for a web site’s credibility and keep your money and data safe…

1. Evaluate the URL: Typically, a fake web site will appear very similar to the original web site but with some irregularities — like a misspelt brand name, missing letters or extraneous characters in the URL.The letter small ‘l’ can be replaced by a capital ‘I’ or the number 1 or the pipe symbol (‘). Similarly, a zero (0) can be replaced with the letter O. Spotting any of these irregularities can help you identify a fake web site.

For example, if the web site of a legitimate business is e.com’ target=’_blank’>www.sharpelectronics-example.com, the spoof web site may be spelt as www.sharape1ectr0nics-examp’e.com. For online users, spotting these goofs in the browser bar can be a lot more challenging. One can use a web service like PhishTank to determine if a particular URL is legitimate and safe.

2. Verify Security Certificates: All secure web sites will have the prefix of ‘https://’ (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) protocol reflected in their web address. Always make sure that you are accessing a web site with this protocol, especially those sites that ask you to share your personal information or financial data for online transactions, like for online shopping or banking. Click on the padlock or ‘Site Information’ icon in the URL and click on ‘Certificate’ to ensure it is valid and current. Else your data can get into the wrong hands within seconds.

3. Keep your browsers and Antivirus definitions updated: Most of the time we use Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer or Safari to search for information. Their constant upgrades provide improved inbuilt features to help users identify fake web sites whenever they are attempting to login. The latest versions of antivirus software like Norton, McAfee and Avast enable notifications and pop up messages immediately when a user unwittingly tries to access a fake web site. A good resource to verify web sites is the Comodo Web Inspector and can be found here — https://app.webinspector.com

4. Don’t Click every eye-catching Ads: Look carefully at any ad or pop up that tempts or attracts you with freebies and offers etc. It could be a online scam. Clicking on the pop-up or a shortened URL or embedded hyperlink can probably lead to a fake web site or allow malware to creep into your system.

5. Cross check the Online Shopping Reviews: It is one of the very common ways to understand the reputation and quality of the online shopping web site. Type and search for the domain name in the search engine followed by ‘reviews’. It will reveal user experiences. If it is pooled by negative reviews, you must avoid accessing the web site.

6. Absence of Contact Details: The whole idea of putting up a online shopping web site is to let others know about your brand. If a online web shopping portal doesn’t have verifiable contact details including a physical customer service address, telephonic or e-mail customer support options, then it’s probably a poorly run business or an attempt by fraudsters to create a fake web site.

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