DOWNERS GROVE, Ill., Nov. 25, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- With millions of consumers poised to spend billions of dollars in online purchases in the coming weeks, CompTIA, the IT industry association, today offered shoppers some simple, common sense tips for a safe online shopping experience.
"With the excitement of the season and the rush to get holiday shopping done, it's easy to allow your online vigilance to slip," said Todd Thibodeaux, president and chief executive officer, CompTIA. "By being aware of what to be on the lookout for and by taking a few simple precautions, you can greatly reduce your chances of becoming a victim of cybercrime."
IT industry security experts who serve on the CompTIA IT Security Community's Executive Committee shared the following advice for safe and secure online shopping.
Look for the Lock – Before providing personal information and credit card data make sure that the website's URL starts with https:// and displays a small locked padlock icon.
"This identifies the website as having a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) Certificate," said Chris Johnson, CEO, Untangled Solutions. "Using SSL encrypts the exchange of information, such as your credit card, so others cannot read it."
Check Before You Click – Consumers will be deluged with emails about discounts, free gift cards, sales and special promotions. While some are legitimate offers, many others are cover for cybercriminals and scam artists. The adage "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is" applies in the digital universe, too.
"Before clicking on a suspicious link, mouse over the link to see if the actual link is in fact the same link as is being displayed," said Scott Barlow, vice president, sales and marketing, Reflexion Networks. "When in doubt, go to the trusted URL by opening your browser and typing in the website address to check its legitimacy."
Protect Passwords and PINs – For any card that has a PIN associated with it, you may want to change your PIN if you've been using the same one for a long time.
"Changing to a PIN that is harder to guess — and longer than four digits if your card issuer allows that — is a small step that can greatly improve your security," advised Stephen Cobb, security evangelist, ESET LLC. "Longer and harder to guess is also good advice for setting passwords and passphrases you use to access your accounts online, whether from your phone, laptop or tablet."
Avoid Shopping on Open Wi-Fi Networks – Don't allow the convenience of public Wi-Fi networks in coffee shops, hotels, malls and stores cause you to let your guard down.
"Even if these networks have a password, they are not as safe as you think," noted Dean Sorensen, principal consultant and CEO, Secure Technology Strategies, Inc. "You're sharing the network with anyone else in the vicinity of its coverage, which means your data is at risk. It's frighteningly easy to steal someone's username and password, or see what they're doing just by being on the same network."
Stay Alert – Set up automated alerts on your bank and credit cards to track purchases.
"This is one of the strongest actions you can take to avoid nefarious activity," said Sorensen. "Large charges are not the only problem. Some thieves use the cards for small charges that are more likely to be overlooked; or when the credit card is not present, such as a web purchase."
CompTIA IT Security Community members monitor, discuss and evaluate new technologies in the IT security field. To learn more, visit http://www.comptia.org/communities/it-security.
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