In today’s digital age, online shopping has become a convenient and popular way for consumers to purchase goods and services. However, as with any activity that involves the transfer of sensitive information over the internet, online shopping carries with it the risk of cyber attacks and other forms of online fraud. In order to protect themselves, it is important for online shoppers to be aware of the potential threats and take steps to protect themselves from these risks.
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According to Verizon’s 2022 Data Breach Investigations Report, the retail industry experienced 629 confirmed incidents and 241 breaches with confirmed data disclosures in 2021. In their quarterly fraud trend analysis, TransUnion found out that in Q4 2021, fraud attempts rose 3.74% globally.
In addition to taking steps to protect themselves from cyber threats, online shoppers can also help protect the broader online community by being vigilant and reporting any suspicious activity or websites to the authorities. By doing so, shoppers can help to protect others from falling victim to online scams and fraud, and help to create a safer and more secure online environment for everyone.
1) What are the cybersecurity threats for online shoppers?
Adware is an unwanted software application designed to throw advertisements up on your screen, most often within a web browser. Advertising banners are displayed while any program is running. It can be automatically downloaded to your system while browsing any website and can be viewed through pop-up windows or through a bar that appears on the computer screen automatically.
Cybercriminals can easily create fake versions of legitimate websites. Illegitimate internet websites are used to deceive users into fraud or malicious attacks.
Identity theft is the illegal use of someone else’s personal information to steal money or credit.
Scammers may register a Web address that looks like it belongs to a legitimate business, or one that can easily be typed by accident when navigating to a legitimate Web site.
A data breach is a cyber attack in which sensitive, confidential or otherwise protected data has been accessed or disclosed in an unauthorized fashion. Data breaches can occur in any size organization, from small businesses to major corporations. They may involve personal health information (PHI), personally identifiable information (PII), trade secrets or other confidential information.
Grinch bots are automated programs that purchase inventory online and track trending items. When they discover in-demand goods, they automatically purchase all the stock in one sweep seconds after it appears on the market. That indeed can spoil your online shopping experience.
Web skimming attacks occur when a malicious script is injected into sites to steal information entered into web forms.
2) Why do malicious actors target e-commerce platforms and users?
- Malicious actors, such as hackers and cybercriminals, often target e-commerce platforms and users because these platforms and users often have valuable personal and financial information that the attackers can exploit for their own gain. This may include credit card numbers, login credentials, and other sensitive information that can be used to commit identity theft or financial fraud.
- Additionally, e-commerce platforms often process large amounts of financial transactions, making them attractive targets for attackers who want to steal money or disrupt the platform’s operations.
3) What can you do to protect yourself while shopping online?
- Only shop on secure websites:
Before entering any personal or payment information on a website, make sure the site is secure by looking for the “https” in the URL and a lock icon in the address bar. This indicates that the website is using encryption to protect your information.
- Use a strong and unique password for each online account:
Using the same password for multiple accounts makes it easier for hackers to access all of your accounts if they manage to steal your password. Create a unique and strong password for each online account, and use a password manager to help you keep track of them.
- Use two-factor authentication:
Many online accounts offer two-factor authentication, which adds an extra layer of security by requiring you to enter a code that is sent to your phone or email in addition to your password. This makes it much harder for hackers to access your account.
- Use a credit card instead of a debit card:
Credit cards offer better protection against fraud than debit cards. If you do use a debit card, make sure to monitor your account regularly for any unauthorized charges.
- Use a virtual credit card:
Some credit card issuers will give you a temporary card number that’s linked to your credit card account. Use the temporary number to shop online without showing the seller your real credit card details.
- Be cautious when clicking links:
Be wary of clicking on links in emails or on social media, as they may lead to phishing websites that are designed to steal your personal information. It’s best to type the website’s URL directly into your browser to avoid these scams.
4) How can e-commerce platform’s owner help protect online shoppers?
- Implementing strong security measures to protect customer data and prevent unauthorized access to sensitive information. This may include things like using secure servers, encrypting data, and requiring strong passwords.
- Providing clear and easy-to-understand information about their privacy policies and how customer data will be used. This can help shoppers understand how their personal information will be handled, and provide them with the confidence to make purchases on the platform.
- Offering secure payment options, such as using a third-party payment processor or providing the option to pay with a credit card. This can help reduce the risk of fraud and protect shoppers’ financial information.
- Providing a clear and easy-to-use process for returning and exchanging items. This can help shoppers feel more confident making purchases on the platform, knowing that they will be able to return or exchange items if necessary.
- Being responsive to customer inquiries and concerns, and providing timely and helpful support. This can help build trust with customers and make them feel more comfortable using the platform.
5) How to report scams and financial fraud?
- If you believe you have been a victim of a scam or financial fraud, it’s important to report it as soon as possible.
- You can report scams and financial fraud to your local law enforcement agency, as well as to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the United States. To report a scam to the FTC, you can visit their website at www.ftc.gov or call 1–877-FTC-HELP.
- Additionally, you can report scams and fraud to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) through their Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.
- It’s also a good idea to alert your bank or credit card company if you have been a victim of financial fraud, so they can help protect your accounts.
6) What resources are available to protect yourself while shopping online?
- All E-commerce warriors need these vital cyber security insights by Silent Sales Machine Radio
- GOLLUMFUN PART 1 and PART 2 by Darknet Diaries
HTTPS Everywhere is a Firefox, Chrome, and Opera extension that encrypts your communications with many major websites, making your browsing more secure.
- Online Shopping — Security Tips by FTC
- Cybertip: How to avoid phishing scams
- Cybertip: Keep Track of Your Digital Footprint
- Cybertip: Think Before You Click
- CyberTip: Connect Securely
- CyberStory: 10 Major Cyber Attacks Against Retailers
For more content about cyber safety for e-commerce, visit:
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