Helpful tips from Virginia Tech’s Tech4Humanity Lab for online shoppers this holiday season

Local News

BLACKSBURG, Va. (WFXR) — According to Adobe Analytics, this Cyber Monday is to have the largest online sales numbers in history.

With more people shopping online, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the risk of having personal information stolen is high.

“We’ve seen substantial increases in hacking over the period of COVID-19,” said Aaron Brantly, Director of Virginia Tech’s Tech4Humanity Lab.

Brantly estimates this year’s online shopping trend has the potential to be the worst year on record for cyber breaches.

He offers several tips for online shoppers this holiday season:

Aaron Brantly gives his tips for online shoppers
  1. Watch out for fake websites and scams. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
  2. Shop only from a secure computer and consider using a service such as PayPal or Apple Pay.
  3. Do not use a debit card if possible.
  4. Make sure that any website you engage in commerce on has “SSL” often viewed as a lock icon on Safari and Chrome.
  5. Limit the amount of personal information you disclose.
  6. Search on retail sites (Walmart, Amazon, Target, Best Buy etc.) rather than using search engines and use “trusted vendors.”
  7. Consider what you are purchasing: where was it made, what types of data will be used by it and will it collect, what are the terms of service associated with its use, does it meet security standards, is it manufactured by a reputable producer?
  8. Review your credit card statements and banking statements regularly to identify potentially fraudulent purchases.
  9. Use a password manager (Keychain, LastPass, 1Password, or similar) to create unique user IDs and passwords for each site you visit. DO NOT reuse passwords or usernames – particularly those that are used on banking, billing or medical sites.  
  10. Consider shopping locally – local businesses have been especially hard hit during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Brantly says that there were an estimated 471 million data records stolen in the United States in 2018.

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