4 Things You Didn’t Know About Shopping and Banking Apps
The world is quarantined, most brick-and-mortar stores are closed, and governments are encouraging citizens across the globe to switch to cashless payments to help slow the transmission of the coronavirus.
In this environment, it seems as if online shopping is the best method to make purchases during the COVID-19 pandemic.
But how do you stay safe when shopping online? No one ever wants to get hacked, particularly during this already worrying time. The best way to enhance your digital security is to understand how internet purchases work and know how to spot security red flags right away.
So to help you stay safe, we’ve made a list of the four critical facts you should know about safe online shopping.
1️⃣Using public Wi-Fi makes your data vulnerable, no matter the app
Shopping and banking apps are supposed to be more secure than other digital products. But does this mean it’s wise to use a public hotspot when shopping or accessing banking services? Absolutely not!
Studies have shown that many financial apps have security flaws, and most shopping apps expose user data to unauthorized access. Pair it with a free Wi-Fi network, and you get the perfect conditions for hackers to strike.
So, when shopping online, use your home Wi-Fi network, a Virtual Private Network (VPN), or cellular connection. These are some of the most basic yet best internet security tips to protect you from scams and financial fraud.
2️⃣Two-factor authentication means a double shield for your data
If an app has two-factor authentication, it requires two methods to verify your identity. Combinations may vary. For example, it can be a unique password plus a one-time code sent via a text message. Biometric recognition (such as fingerprint, face, retina) is less common today, but it’s growing in popularity.
For users, two-factor authentication means a shopping or banking app has an additional layer of security. This makes it harder for hackers to access your sensitive information. A study by Google showed that adding an SMS code to user authentication helped block all automated attacks and 76% of direct attacks.
When you’re excited about buying new yoga pants or a coffee brewer, confirming your identity twice might be quite annoying. But, believe us, it’s a fair price to pay for safe online banking and shopping.
3️⃣Mobile apps are more secure than shopping and banking websites
Are banking apps safer than websites? Well, yes they are.
Using websites for online banking is generally considered less secure than paying money via a bank’s official mobile app. After all, web browsers open the back door to your data for cybercriminals.
On top of this, most reputable financial institutions invest in security updates to make their apps resistant to new cyber threats. So when you use a banking mobile app to pay for products, fraudsters have much fewer opportunities to sneak in.
4️⃣The digital space is full of fake shopping apps and websites
Uncertain times like these make many of us frustrated and distracted. Everyone but scammers and online criminals. So you need to be vigilant when you’re shopping online and try and buy from trusted sources. Creating fake shopping apps and websites is one of the schemes scammers may use to steal your personal information.
For you, as a buyer, the main problem with phony platforms is how they often look like authentic retail apps or websites. But instead of selling real products, they send customers counterfeits, install malware on their devices, or collect their bank details.
So, what indicates you are shopping online in a secure manner?
If you’ve decided to buy things via a website, make sure the address starts with https://, not “http://. The address bar should also contain a small padlock icon, indicating the website’s traffic is encrypted. But even if these two criteria are met, do not provide more information than is absolutely necessary to complete a purchase. Legitimate shopping sites would never make your mother's maiden name an obligatory field.
To stay on the safe side when shopping via a smartphone, download a retail app from the seller's official website. If this is impossible and you have to get an app from the App Store or Google Play Store, check its ratings, the number of downloads, and the time since its launch.
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Taking care of your health should be the first priority during the quarantine. But don’t forget to look after your digital wellbeing. Unscrupulous hackers never miss an opportunity to steal your sensitive information or money.
So be cautious when buying things on the internet. Online shopping is only satisfying when it’s done safely.
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