This is the third part of the blog series on women’s cyber safety, discussing “ONLINE SHOPPING”, the popular term doing the rounds in recent times, continuing from the second part which described cyberbullying and its consequences in one’s life . A survey states that the majority of the goods sold online are of fashion categories, which in turn could suggest that there are a huge number of women customers indulging in online/mobile shopping.

The convenience of online shopping is coupled with its own risk. Online shoppers should be aware of the possibility of online fraud as cyber criminals continue to engage cyber space to target credit/debit cards, bank accounts and miscellaneous user credentials to carry out financial transactions.
Online buyers should be aware of the following:

  1. Phishing attacks where a fraudulent website resembles a popular legitimate website enticing the user to carry out financial transactions which results in both monetary and data loss to the user or causes the download of a malware hosted on the crafted website.
  2. One should also be careful about the online portal at which she/he opts to shop, as there are online fraud campaigns reported where the purchased goods are either never delivered or a different product is delivered to the buyer with a time delay. In either case ultimately it is a financial loss to the buyer.
  3. Shop online only through the portals whose website address starts with “https://” (‘s’ stands for secure) with a lock symbol appearing next to it (or sometimes on the bottom right corner of the browser window), which indicates that the portal uses SSL encryption.

With the increasing usage of smart devices, shopping is being made mobile- “SHOPPING ON THE GO”. The number of Indian customers for mobile shopping is growing given the special deals on purchases and the reduced time factor. In addition, the concept of e-wallet has attracted a large user base by presenting the shopper with additional deals and discounts.

E-wallet portals or mobile shopping applications are seen to:

  1. Provide the choice of saving the buyer’s credit/debit card details in their database for future use. This raises the question “how secure is the data stored at the merchant’s end?”
  2. Auto-login with Facebook or Google account. In case of the mobile being stolen or lost, auto-logging in along with saved credit/debit card details might be a recipe for disaster.

Regardless of whether the shopping is through online computers or mobile devices, one should always:

  • Choose a reputed portal by reading through the reviews available and its track record
  • Download the mobile shopping/banking apps from the official app store
  • Think twice before saving your banking information or credit/debit cards details
  • Avoid opening advertisements or mails from an unknown seller or portal

Images courtesy of:
V.Dhanalakshmi, Senior Threat Researcher, K7TCL
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