November 30, 2015 4:15PM
Millions of people will spend billions of dollars shopping for gifts between Cyber Monday, the largest online shopping day of the year, and Christmas. And while online shopping boasts a variety of great deals, it also comes with some security risks.
“With these online bargains there is opportunity for various online threats such as phishing scams, identity theft, and malware,” said Angela Neria, Pittsburg State’s chief information officer.
Neria said there are several precautionary measures shoppers can take to protect their identities and pocketbooks this holiday season. One of the most pertinent tips, she said, is to avoid using a cell phone or mobile device to shop online.
“It's easy to do your shopping on your smart phone, but these devices do not hold the protection that an anti-virus protected PC does,” Neria said. “Avoid purchasing items from your smart phone if possible.”
Shopping online over a public wifi network is also risky, she said.
“Because public wifi networks are not secure, shoppers should avoid making purchases while on an open wifi network in a public location like an airport, hotel, or restaurant,” she said.
Neria said it’s also important to be watch out for well-designed scams.
“Beware of fake charities and eCard scams that may lure you in and then request personal information and credit card numbers,” she said. “Never give out personal information via an email (even if it appears to be from your bank, Amazon account, PayPal account, etc). These are phishing scams and result in identity theft.”
Other tips include regularly monitoring credit card transactions, keeping computers’ anti-virus protection updated and being aware of deals that are “too good to be true.”
“If a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is,” Neria said. “By clicking on advertisements for deals too good to be true, you are 'pulled' into a phishing scam asking for personal information that should not be shared online.”
Neria said she expects technology items to remain on the top of many buyers’ shopping lists this season. While upgrades on cell phones and tablets are always among the hot items, she said many of this year’s best buys are relatively new to the market.
“Drones are becoming increasingly popular and will end up as one of this season’s top tech buys,” she said. “Hover boards are also expected to be among the top items this year.”
Wearable tech items such as the Apple iWatch and FitBit will be hot items this year, Neria said.
“The trend is still mobile, mobile, mobile,” she said. “People want to take their technology with them. Tablets and micro laptops are replacing desktops and traditional laptops. Items like the iWatch are hot because they’re even more mobile than a smart phone in many ways.”