https. The second: that little lock before the web address, which means that the site supports SSL encryption, which comes into play when you enter codes and sensitive data; these then become encrypted and illegible to prying eyes.
Your first name, last name, and shipping address are okay, but when it comes to entering your payment details, it’s better to be cautious. The SSL rule applies, but that’s not all: there’s no reason to enter the three numbers on the back of the card if you’re not on the credit institution’s website (where an SSL is also obligatory), and it’s also best not to connect an account, especially for a temporary purchase, to social profiles such as Facebook and Twitter, which could very well be hacked by cybercriminals and used for blackmail and tampering.
Going back to payment options, a good idea is to use prepaid cards loaded with an amount slightly greater than what you have to pay online. In this way, you ensure that there’s not a hefty sum available if there’s a breach online or at an ATM, carried out through techniques known as skimming. There are also methods, such as PayPal, that are capable of protecting your purchase even after completing it, by “freezing” the amount until you receive the purchased item at home. At that point, either everything is unblocked or a justified claim is made.
Those hackers again… During the Christmas season, there is a steep increase in the number of fake e-mail messages received, which are created specifically to attract malicious clicks. This practice, known as mail phishing, tries to trick internet users with promotional messages and phantasmagorical discounts on the hottest items. The body of the e-mail contains web addresses that, once visited, can directly infect the computer or ask for usernames and passwords to the most popular platforms. This doesn’t entail a direct loss of money, but it does involve more serious consequences in the long term, such as private messages being read and extortion activities being carried out after your computer is blocked through malware and viruses, otherwise frightfully known as cryptolocker.
All of these problems can be resolved with a high-quality protection software. The latest-generation antivirus programs can perform a real-time analysis of compromised websites (those lacking certificates) and e-mail messages from senders whose domains are considered fake or suspicious. You should still continue paying careful attention, but this type of technology can lend a huge helping hand. Avira Antivirus, for example, is a great companion that is capable of intercepting malicious traffic and blocking it from the outset, thus preventing you from making an unpleasant Christmas blunder.