Cyber Monday Safe Shopping Tips

The last few years I’ve gotten asked by the media to talk about this. Here are my notes on best practices for staying safe shopping online over the holidays. I welcome ideas. Remember this is for “joe average user” and “suzy new ipad” not the hacker, cracker, super freaks, and infosec geeks. So suggestions of one time pad crypto doesn’t do much for working with Amazon.

The computer

  • Try not and use a shared computer or public terminal like at a hotel for commerce
  • Don’t use a open wireless connection at Starbucks or hotel for commerce
  • Make sure the computer is using anti-virus and security updates are done
  • EXPERT LEVEL- Make sure your crypto services (certificates) are up to date

The shopper

  • Buy from those you know and are reputable (more on this in a second)
  • Be savvy and don’t buy from unknown sources even for good deals
  • It’s not perfect but look for the lock icon (https)
  • If it looks to good to be true… it likely is 
  • Use payment mechanisms that are fraud aware (shun wire transfer) and cash
  • Use a credit card with fraud protection over a debit card with none
  • EXPERT LEVEL- Use one time use credit cards

The store

  • Look at the URL (the address) and make sure it looks right
  • Some shopping apps shouldn’t be trusted.
  • Don’t click on links in emails, copy the link or type it in direct even for trusted stores
  • Track your purchases and email addresses you use and where you use them
  • Do not use the same password for every website
  • If something doesn’t look right or the website doesn’t load then back out and do not give it personal identifiable information
  • EXPERT LEVEL- Check with the Better Business Bureau

Gotchas No matter what you do things might go wrong

  • Offers from unknown entities for well known products (know who as well as what)
  • Emails from friends for products they used but never sent
  • Getting tracked by super cookies (flash based) can help to steal credentials
  • Social media tracking can be used to target you
  • The purchase isn’t complete until it is in your possession. Watch out for strange packages arriving, and your expected packages disappearing.
  • Don’t take a picture of your new store credit card and post it on Twitter (yes some people do)

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