Column: Keep security in mind for safe online holiday season
Although Black Friday and Cyber Monday are now in the rearview mirror, it’s still prime time for online shopping.
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Although Black Friday and Cyber Monday are now in the rearview mirror, it’s still prime time for online shopping. In fact, the online holiday shopping season continues in full swing right up until shipping deadlines to Hawaii. Online deals continue to equal if not exceed those offered Monday and Friday. As such, it’s also prime time for online scams. What, then, should folks do to ensure safe online shopping?
First, make sure your gear is updated with the latest operating system versions. Windows 10, for example, had an update (version 1909) released a few weeks ago that is still being flagged as optional. This update can take hours to install, so plan ahead.
If you, like many, use your phone to shop, don’t forget it needs updates, too. For example, earlier this year a vulnerability allowed the bad guys to attack and control Android devices.
If possible, shop with a credit card as opposed to a debit card. This is especially true if your credit card includes fraud protection, as many do. In case of suspicious activity, credit cards also can be put on hold without freezing your other resources.
Sites that require direct payments from your bank, wire transfers or other esoteric forms of payment should be avoided like the plague. Reputable services like PayPal or Verified by Visa add an extra level of protection.
Be extra careful when clicking on a link provided via email or even a website. This is easy to do on a computer. Simply hover your mouse over the link and the real URL will be displayed. Take notice of a couple of things before clicking on it. Does the URL point to what it claims to be, or is it going somewhere else? If somewhere else, your scammy sense should start to tingle.
Other things to look for include long names filled with random characters and numbers. While these can be legitimate, be extra careful.
This is harder to do on a phone or tablet. If it’s a link you haven’t used before, consider waiting until you get in front of a computer to double-check it. Bad guys can format emails to be displayed differently on phones versus computers. If they know you’re looking at it on a phone, they will try harder to trick you.
A good way to be safe, whether on a computer, phone or tablet, is to simply visit the site directly. If it’s purported to be a link from Amazon, for example, just go directly to www.amazon.com or use the Amazon app to log in. Any real deal still will be findable if you log in this way.
Last, keep in mind a pre- internet adage: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
John Agsalud is an information technology expert with more than 25 years of IT experience in Hawaii and around the world. He can be reached at email@example.com.