Last updated: June 01. 2013 12:22PM - 128 Views
Anthony Gonzalez
Staff Writer

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There is one thing cybercriminals count on when seeking ways to steal personal data when you’re shopping online: that people are too trusting.

On Cyber Monday, the online version of Black Friday, readers are encouraged to institute a healthy dose of skepticism. One should be suspicious of all e-mail, including those that appear to be from a person or company you know.

-Beware of pop-up ads claiming you can get an incredible deal.

-Beware of emails in your personal inbox by people writing to you as if they know you.

There’s a lot of cash to be siphoned on Cyber Monday. In 2011, online sales reached $1.2 billion last year. The rising revenue growth creates a conducive environment for cybercriminals to blitz the public with solicitation in an effort to obtain information that can be used to steal credit card numbers or open accounts­ in a victim’s name.

And since more and more are going to do some of your shopping at work, it’s suggested to exercise extreme caution so you don’t compromise the computer systems at your job.

Some tips from the Better Business Bureau:

-Keep in mind this is prime phishing season. Identity thieves are skilled at sending e-mails that look authentic. Often the goal is to install malicious software on your computer or steal personal data off of your computer. The messages may claim there is a problem with your holiday order or your account in an effort to lure you into revealing passwords or personal information. Don’t click on links or open attachments. If you receive this type of e-mail, call the contact number on the website where you made your purchase to confirm there really is a problem.

-Be careful about clicking on links that are displayed as part of your top results from an online search. Hackers know how to snare victims through a technique called search engine optimization poisoning. They know people might be searching for “holiday sales” or “Black Friday deals.” Using such keywords, they then drive you to websites set up to capture your personal information or to sell you inferior or fake products. Or you might not get anything at all. If I see a deal in a search purportedly from a well-known retailer, I go to that retailer’s website directly, by typing in the address. If you are unsure about a link without clicking on it, hover over it with your cursor to see what comes up. The string of cryptic numbers won’t match a company’s real Web address.

-Double-check that a website is secure. Enter personal data such as credit card numbers only on encrypted websites. Look in the address box for the “s” in “https://” and in the lower right corner for the “lock” symbol.

Shopping online can be rewarding and save you quite a few bucks, but only by being proactive and taking the right steps. Doing so forces cybercriminals to stay out of your way.

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