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Target, then Kickstarter-Don’t be next?

Feb 26, 2014
Pragati Dokania

Earlier last Smart Shopperweek, Kickstarter, the famous crowd-funding site was hacked and crucial information was stolen. The company wrote in a blog post that even though credit card numbers were not stolen, email IDs and encrypted passkeys were already on the hackers’ screens. Following the revolution of IT and commerce, cyber-attacks have become a natural consequence. This is why we all need to ensure that our private information is as hard to get as possible.

Here are five steps through which users can minimize the chances of getting hacked:

Step 1: Choosing a secure online platform

People do go against the odds to submit their financial information to startups and unsecure online stores just to buy discounted products. More than 30% of the people landing on scams actually submit their information without a second thought.

During the Cyber Monday sale, it was being predicted that as much as 81% of people over 30 years of age are going to purchase online using their laptops.The Software Development Manager at VoIP Supply, Shawn Hess, told earlier that an online platform can be secured from cyber threat using two methods:

  • Devising a purpose-written sophisticated platform, and
  • Allowing access through the internal network with no chance of intervention from public servers

It is always a wise move to read the platform’s privacy policy and other related information before setting up an account there.

Step 2: Buying only through a SSL internet connection

More than half of the buyers in their mid 30s were predicted to be using their mobile devices for Cyber Monday purchases. And two-thirds of this figure were forecasted to be either remote or purchasing via mobile in-store.The first threat here is that remote connections are usually open to the general public. A computer genius with the ability to hack a shared connection won’t spend a split second to copy all the information provided through mobile devices.

If the online shopping is going to be on the go, first ensure that the connection you are connected thru is a SSL [Secure Sockets Layer] connection. While buyers are employing their bit of precaution, eCommerce sites can:

  • Integrate an EV SSL connection,
  • Provide a green URL bar, and
  • Allow only a SSL security seal for online checkouts

Step 3: Not buying from sites that store data

Even though Kickstarter lost very crucial information to the hackers, credit card data of any kind remained untouched. Considering the 30% increase in cyber attacks since last year, it is not an intelligent move to provide such precious information to websites that store data.

As a matter of fact, PCI Standards deem such practices to be unethical and illegal by eCommerce sites. Always set up an account on sites that store minimal data and have a secure platform in place.

Step 4: Setting up strong passwords

One common mistake that online shoppers usually make is repetition of passkeys. This also applies to similar passkeys for an average person’s social accounts and multiple payment gateways. No matter how difficult it might be to predict the passkey, once it’s broken, the impact is far-reaching.Therefore, always ensure that you set up an online buyer’s account with a new password. The key should have ALL of the following three characteristics:

  • It should contain one capital letter (preferably more), one digit and one symbol,
  • The passkey should be at least six characters long, and
  • The passkey should never be repeated again

For websites, it is standard practice to bring in other verification methods to allow access. Basecamp, the successful project outsourcing site, sends a message to the account holder’s phone with a four-digit code. Only that code would allow access after inputting the original password. Other platforms also encourage the usage of ReCAPTCHA codes and security questions.

Step 5: Looking for any suspicious activity

Lots of online stores are now viral claiming to sell 100% original warranted products for far less than market price. PayPal reported earlier that 20% of transaction abortions are due to suspicion that the seller might be a fraud. People commonly don’t buy products without reading the product reviews – you should too adopt the same practice.

It is always preferable to buy a product straight from the manufacturer’s store rather than other marketplaces or online stores. These few precautions can help the users in buying online and surfing the web a lot more safely. After all, our private information is our responsibility.

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