How To Stay Safe While Shopping Online This Holiday Season
I’m pleased to report that I’ve achieved a number of personal bests in 2020 but the one I’m most proud about is my achievement in the highly skilled arena of online shopping. I’ve shopped online like I’m competing in the Olympics: groceries, homewares, clothing – even car parts! And my story is not unique. Living with a pandemic has certainly meant we’ve had to adapt – but when it came to ramping up my online shopping so we could stay home and stay safe – I was super happy to adapt!
And research from McAfee shows that I am not alone. In fact, over 40% of Aussies are buying more online since the onset of COVID-19 according to the 2020 Holiday Season: State of Today’s Digital e-Shopper survey. But this where it gets really interesting as the survey also shows that nearly 1/3 of us (29%) are shopping online 3-5 days a week, and over one in ten consumers (11%) are even shopping online daily!! But with many online retailers offering such snappy delivery, it has just made perfect sense to stay safe and stay home!
Santa Isn’t Far Away…
With just over a month till Santa visits, it will come as no surprise that many of us are starting to prepare for the Holiday season by purchasing gifts already. Online shopping events such as Click Frenzy or the Black Friday/Cyber Monday events are often very compelling times to buy. But some Aussies have decided they want to get in early to secure gifts for their loved ones in response to warnings from some retailers warning that some items may sell out before Christmas due to COVID-19 related supply chain issues. In fact, McAfee’s research shows that 48% of Aussies will be hitting the digital links to give gifts and cheer this year, despite 49% feeling cyber scams become more prevalent during the holiday season.
But What About The Risks?
McAfee’s research shows very clearly that the bulk of us Aussies are absolutely aware of the risks and scams associated with online shopping but that we still plan to do more shopping online anyway. And with many of us still concerned about our health and staying well, it makes complete sense. However, if there was ever a time to take proactive steps to ensure you are minimizing risks online – it is now!
What Risks Have McAfee Found?
McAfee’s specialist online threat team (the Advanced Threat Research team) recently found evidence that online cybercrime is on increase this year, with McAfee Labs observing 419 threats per minute between April to June 2020 – an increase of almost 12% over the previous quarter.
And with many consumers gearing up to spend up big online in preparation for the Holiday season, many experts are worried that consumers are NOT taking these threats as seriously as they should. McAfee’s research showed that between April to June 2020, 41% of 18-24 year olds have fallen victim to an online scam and over 50% of the same age group are aware of the risks but have made no change to their online habits.
My Top Tips To Stay Safe While Shopping Online
At the risk of sounding dramatic, I want you to channel your James Bond when you shop online this holiday period. Do your homework, think with your head and NOT your heart and always have your wits about you. Here are my top tips that I urge you to follow to ensure you don’t have any unnecessary drama this Christmas:
Think Before You Click
Click on random, unsafe links is the best way of falling victim to a phishing scam. Who wants their credit card details stolen? – no one! And Christmas is THE worst time for this to happen! If something looks too good to be true – it probably is. If you aren’t sure – check directly at the source – manually enter the online store address yourself to avoid those potentially nasty links!
Turn On Multi-Factor Authentication Now
This is a no-brainer – where possible, turn this on as it adds another lay of protection to your personal data and accounts. Yes, it will add another 10 seconds to the log-in process but it’s absolutely worth it.
Invest in a VPN
If you have a VPN (or Virtual Private Network) on your laptop, you can use Wi-Fi without any concern – perfect for online purchases on the go! A VPN creates an encrypted tunnel between your device and the router which means anything you share is protected and safe! Check out McAfee’s Safe Connect which includes bank-grade encryption and private browsing services.
Protect Yourself – and Your Device!
Ensuring all your devices are kitted out with comprehensive security software which will protect against viruses, phishing attacks and malicious website is key. Think of it as having a guardian cyber angel on your shoulder. McAfee’s Total Protection software does all that plus it has a password manager, a shredder and encrypted storage – and the Family Pack includes the amazing Safe Family app – which is lifechanging if you have tweens and teens!
So, yes – please make your list and check it twice BUT before you dive in and start spending please take a moment to ask yourself whether you are doing all you can to minimise the risks when online shopping this year. And don’t forget to remind your kids too – they may very well have their eye on a large gift for you too!
Happy Christmas Everyone