Technology has given us the privilege to do most of our day-to-day chores from the convenience of our homes. Be it booking tickets, ordering food, or shopping; people prefer doing it online. These increasing online activities of people have contributed to the increase in cyber crimes. In this article, we will discuss what is the risk associated with online shopping, is online shopping safe, how to check if a website is safe to do online shopping, and things to check while shopping online. We discussed cybercrimes in our previous article.
What is the risk associated with online shopping?
The pandemic has contributed to a rise in online shopping. People prefer to shop online rather than go to retail stores. E-tailers have come up with different ways of attracting customers. However, online shopping looks alluring and convenient but there is risk associated with it. Let us look at the risk associated with online shopping.
Fake online stores – Some spammers make e-commerce websites look genuine but, unfortunately, they are fake. They copy the design, layout, and logo of famous online websites to attack and steal the customers who think that it is a trusted website. These websites give tentative offers ranging from popular clothing brands, and electronics to jewellery at a low price. So, when users place their orders, they rarely get their items delivered, or if they receive them the quality of the product is not up to the mark.
Identity theft – Where cybercriminals hack e-commerce websites and steal the user’s data, login detail, etc. Through identity theft, the users are impersonated by cybercriminals to make fake purchases, or the hackers also sell the personal details of users to other criminals.
Unencrypted data – Websites which does not encrypt data are exposed to attacks by cybercriminals.
Fake reviews – Reading reviews before buying any products online is a good practice. However, these online reviews are not always accurate. One should pay attention to certain reviews which are too good to be true. Hackers attract customers to their websites through fake reviews.
Data breaches – When hackers get access to your data it is called a Data breach. While shopping online you have to share your information with the e-tailers, such as credit card or bank details, contact details, and address. This information can be exposed by hackers through a data breach.
Fake apps – Just like identity theft caused by a fake website, there are fake applications that look similar to a genuine e-commerce website. These fake apps can easily trace your personal information, user name, and password.
Adware – Adware means ‘advertisements software’ where unsolicited advertisements pop up on the screen when you browse the internet. There is genuine adware that generates revenue for its owners, however, there are also some illegitimate websites that use adware to attract their malicious websites and get the personal information of the visitors. Sometimes, when you try to close a pop-up ad window by clicking on the ‘X’ symbol, it can infect your computer.
Unsecured Wi-Fi – Unsecured Wi-Fi at places are not secure and they carry a risk of transmission of data to hackers. Hackers can easily hack public Wi-Fi, hence, if you use public Wi-Fi for making online transactions then, you are at risk of exposing your personal data, such as credit card information, contact details, etc. in the hands of cybercriminals.
Phishing – Fake emails sent by spammers under the pretext of a genuine retailer. This email contains a link or an attachment, which attracts the receiver to click on it, if the receiver of mail clicks on it, their computer will be infected by malware.
Is online shopping safe?
Having seen the risk involved in online shopping, the question now arises is it safe to do online shopping? The answer is; Yes, it is safe to do online shopping provided you are cautious. The habit of individuals and the internet they use determines how safe it is to do online shopping. If you use weak passwords, or the same passwords for every online shopping portal, or use public wi-fi to log in to your personal account then you are prone to getting into the trap of cybercriminals. Therefore, to have safe online shopping you must exercise vigilance.
Things to check while shopping online
Now that you know the risk involved in online shopping, you should be cautious while shopping online. Let us look at how you check if a website is safe to do online shopping.
The very first precaution that you can take is to check if the website has an SSL (Security Sockets Layer) certificate. Any website that has an SSL certificate is safe. To know whether a website has an SSL certificate is to look for a padlock icon in the URL bar, or there should be HTTPS at the beginning of the URL, if the website contains HTTP and not HTTPS it is not a secure website.
Additionally, you can also cross-check some extraordinary offers made on the websites. There are chances that these websites would cheat you with replicas or fake branded products.
Also, check if the contact section of the website has their address and contact details. You can verify their address or contact details on search engines to confirm if the location is traceable. Fake websites either do not share their contact details or share a fake one.
Another, way of detecting a website’s authenticity is to look for online reviews of its customers. A genuine review will guide you about the retailer and how good their product is.
Lastly, check if the website accepts credit cards. A credit card is considered one of the safest methods of an online transaction as a credit card enables a person to get a refund in case of fraud. Any website that does not have a credit card as a payment method then there are chances that they are not genuine.