I coughed, and my computer started a check for viruses

Coronavirus, the Holidays, remote working, and online shopping. It's the perfect combination.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed consumer behavior and forcibly accelerated e-commerce from ‘convenient’ to ‘essential’ as people turned to online channels for their every need.  So it is to be expected that as you drop down on your couch stuffed with turkey and trimmings this Holiday season, you may be tempted by online shopping deals. 

Sadly, not all deals are real, and your card information is at risk of being used for someone else’s shopping list. So here are a few tips to keep safe this holiday season;

Slow down
The deal is still going to be there in another 5 seconds. Stop. Re-read the text and see if there are any obvious mistakes. Does it sound correct? Do you really think you can get a 55″ TV for $9.99? Move your mouse over any links. In emails, hovering over a link will reveal where it will take you, and sometimes that’s not where you’d expect.

“Is this line secure?”
You’ve seen the movie. The president picks up the red phone, covers the mouthpiece, and asks someone if the “line is secure”. The confirmation comes. The president takes a beat, uncovers the phone, and starts talking. Your internet browser is the same as the red phone. Before typing anything confidential – your name, address, card information, usernames, and passwords – make sure that a padlock is next to the website address. The padlock means it’s secure. And avoid using free wifi networks when buying goods and services.

“It’s the bestest offr ever!!!!!!”
Look for spelling and grammar errors. Companies spend a lot on ad campaigns. It’s rare for a genuine ad campaign to have grammatical errors or spelling mistakes.
You might be looking at malvertising. These are adverts designed to take you to a fake website, trying to fool you into submitting personal information. Most are pretty easy to spot (yes, deals that look too good to be true usually are) so if in doubt, check. Don’t click on the links provided in the email; go to the real site yourself by typing in the actual address. 

It’s all about the chain of command
If you’re using a home computer, your computer has a login and password. You probably have just one user. You. And you have full control. You’re the General, Admiral, or Commander. You’re in charge – the “Administrator”. The computer will do anything you command. The only thing is, if you click on something you shouldn’t, then whatever you’ve clicked on can pretty much do anything you can. And when you’re the one in charge … that’s a problem! In the corporate world, we make sure that the people who use the computer aren’t in command. So, if you are an “Administrator” consider changing to a “User” instead.

Reputation is everything
Try to use trusted retailers based on your knowledge and experience or a personal recommendation from a friend. Beware fake reviews that are too positive or lack detail. Shopping with reputable retailers will also help you to avoid fake/counterfeit goods.

So, to stay safe online while you treat yourself and your loved ones, or bag yourself a bargain in the sales, simply adopt a few good practices and use your common sense – happy shopping!

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