Following the outbreak of COVID-19 in early 2020, phishing attacks against European consumers jumped a staggering 718%. According to Eurostat, more than 70% of EU internet users have made an online purchase in the past year. One reason for this is that online sales have skyrocketed since COVID has forced so many indoors. Consequently, scammers and hackers have been having a field day, and attacks have been on the rise. Many have been trying to answer the question of how European shoppers can stay safe when shopping online.
Here are 5 best practices to follow:
Look for the Lock Icon
The lock icon to the left of a site’s URL signifies that the site uses SSL (secure socket layer) encryption technology to protect financial information. SSL is the same technology used by banks and other financial institutions, and it is standard in the world of e-commerce. Online shoppers should always look for the lock icon to ensure that they are browsing on a secure platform. Another way to tell if the site you are on is safe is to make sure that the letters at the beginning of the URL read “https” as opposed to “http.” The latter is not protected by SSL encryption.
Install Antivirus on All Devices
Most people know that they need antivirus installed on their home laptops and computers, but what about tablets and smartphones? If you do any shopping from your mobile devices, you should make sure to install antivirus protection on all of them. Even if you don’t shop directly from these devices, if they are synced with your home devices, installing antivirus protection is a good idea.
Use a Password Manager for Strong Passwords
Most online shopping sites require a password to sign into your account. If someone discovers that password, they can get access and possibly steal your financial information. Many consumers often choose passwords that are related to their name or date of birth, which are easy for hackers to guess. Additionally, many consumers use the same passwords for many sites. So, if hackers crack one, they can likely get access to all the sites of that individual.
Using an online password manager can help avoid this situation. Not only do they store your passwords safely in the cloud, but they also auto-generate passwords that are difficult to guess. You don’t have to worry about remembering these passwords because the password manager remembers them for you.
Use a VPN, Especially in Public Networks
A VPN offers an additional layer of privacy and security by creating a private network connection across a public one. VPNs are often used by people who want to gain access to certain websites that are restricted in their location. They are also good for online shoppers who use their banking data and credit card numbers for online transactions. A VPN hides this information from potential hackers.
Use Your Common Sense
If a website looks or feels wrong, trust your gut and don’t input any financial information. Similarly, don’t click on any links that look suspicious. Emails that have strange spelling mistakes or deals that look too good to be true are signs that something is amiss, and you should avoid them at all costs.
Phishing attacks against European consumers jumped a staggering 718%. more than 70% of EU internet users have made an online purchase in the past year.
Online shopping is incredibly practical, but that very practicality has led to the rise of phishing and other types of cyberattacks. Following the best practices above can help you be smart and safe when shopping online in the EU.