28 May 2014

What You Must Know To Secure Yourself for Safe Online Shopping and Transactions


The online shopping buzz, which used to be the preserve of western countries like the US and the UK, has caught on and spreading through Africa like wild fire. Even though the spread has not been even across the continent, more shoppers than ever are hitting websites through phones and PCs instead of visiting the mall.

Online shopping on a mobile phone
Image credit: Getty Images
In a general sense, online shopping is any "...form of electronic commerce which allows consumers to directly buy goods or services from a seller over the Internet using a web browser." Thus, whether you visit an online store or marketplace, deal with your bank's online portal or engage in any online transaction involving money, this topic should interest you.

As the number of online shoppers and internet-based financial transactions continue to increase worldwide, the issue of safety i.e. internet safety, must begin to take precedence. This article brings to your knowledge simple guides that ensure you purchase your goods and services safely online.

Tips To Shop And Do Transactions Safely Online (Internet Security)

Cyber security is a topic noone should take lightly. Whether you go online to place an order for that plasma tv you have been thinking of, or that hp laptop you want to replace your old PC with, or you need simple storage devices like a memory card, your security while online should be paramount on your mind.

Although it may seem a bit complex initially, but with little effort and time, many people begin to understand the issues involved in internet security and enjoy all the great online deals out there with confidence.

1). Your Internet Access - a private or public device?

The first step to ensure your safety and security online is the easiest: use a trusted PC (or phone) while shopping or engaging sensitive online transactions. Yes! It is as simple as it gets. Only use a trusted device you do not share with the public.

It may seem a good idea to get a few gifts at work or on a public computer, but these can be stalking grounds for criminals. So using password protected PCs or phones with password protected Wifi connections will instantly stop a majority of cyber-crimes.

2). Be Wary of Email Links

The next step is as simple as the first - be wary of the online stores and services themselves. It is generally a good idea to steer clear of any offers sent directly to your email unless you personally requested them. This is because cyber-criminals easily cloak fake internet addresses with well-known ones.

So always remember that it is a bad idea to visit your favorite online store or bank via link(s) sent in your email. Instead, type the confirmed addresses directly into your browser's address bar.

3). Double-check Every URL Address

Another good habit to form is double checking the URL of all websites you visit. Any website, fake or real, can begin with http://. On the other hand, however and as a general rule, addresses that begin with https:// send and receive only secure packets of information. The S added to the HTTP means the page has Secure Sockets Layer (or SSL) developed for secure, safe Internet transactions.

In addition to the https, you will also see a locked padlock in many cases. Click on the padlock icon to see if the SSL certificate is valid and matches the website.

If the address appears odd for any reason, such as the company name being misspelt, it could be a false storefront used to phish for customers’ personal and banking information. Besides, viruses can be delivered to your computer by just connecting to a fake web page with the help of a vulnerable web browser.

4). Mind Your Personal Information

For lesser known stores or companies, it is always best to be cautious on how you give out your personal information, even when requested. For such cases, it is wiser to check with institutions such as the Better Business Bureau, or similar, before giving away any personal information.

5). Watch The Passwords You Create

The easiest prey for online cyber criminals are the customers that use simplistic or easy to guess passwords and usernames. In a 2012 leak of thousands of Yahoo email accounts, it was shown that as many as 40% of people stick to 12345 or similar sequences as their password. Using a mixture of at least 9 numbers and letters in a random order makes for the most secure passwords.

For those that are afraid of forgetting such complex names and passwords, many companies offer very secure devices to save all of this data in a single place. There are password managers available that offer a portable memory key that will house all personal information in one of the most secure computer chips available. Owners simply need to remember one PIN number, much like an ATM, to access all of their information.

Online deals are getting better each and every year, but no amount of savings is worth losing one’s personal information. Even with the most basic of data, criminals can wreak havoc on credit scores, credit cards, bank accounts, and more.

Finally, I strongly encourage you to bear the above few simple but all-important tips in mind each time you go shopping online or engage in other sensitive internet transactions because when you have first considered your security on the internet, you make your online purchases with sure confidence.


  1. Great information. Thanks for providing us such a useful information. Keep up the good work and continue providing us more quality information from time to time.

    1. Wow! sanam, that was really huge. Just doing my thing, man; although I appreciate your words. Thanks!

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