Antivirus firm AVAST Software provides some advice on how to keep safe when shopping online:
PRAGUE, Czech Republic, November 23, 2010 – The growing popularity of online shopping puts consumers at risk for a malware infection during four separate stages of their e-shop experience.
This risk is increasing as consumers spend more time and money online. U.S. e-commerce spending for the 2010 holiday season is projected to be between seven and nine percent higher than last year, according to a preliminary forecast from comScore. A recent holiday survey from the National Retail Federation found that online shoppers will spend 25 percent more than the average in-store shopper.
While consumers are able to avoid the crowds, they can’t avoid digital pickpockets striking at each step in their holiday shopping. Here are four primary steps – and your vulnerabilities:
Browse – Where are you going? Cyber-criminals will infect web searches, causing the browser to bring up sites that are infected with malware. Infected sites have been both legitimate sites that have been infected or sites designed to spread malware. This is particularly an issue for popular search terms and hot news items.
Compare – Whose prices are these? Comparison shopping sites aggregate results to produce the best prices for consumers. The results they combine are questionable as they may host an infected link or act as a portal to an infected website.
Buy – Which data goes where? There is a lot of personal information included in online shopping: name, credit card number, birthdate and phone number. Is this data being entered into a secure http site – or the more vulnerable https?
Get – Is that my package? That email about your package from the United States Postal Service, UPS and FedEx probably is not. A common holiday phishing tactic is an emailed request to print out a package invoice.
”Online shopping has become more complex and involved in recent years, leaving shoppers at risk during multiple points of the browsing and buying process,“ said Ondrej Vlcek, Chief Technical Officer at AVAST Software. “Holiday shoppers can ensure that no Grinch will spoil their holiday cheer by downloading the free avast! antivirus program. avast! will keep your identity and computer totally protected without slowing it down, so you can get your shopping done quickly and still have time to enjoy the holiday season.“
To ensure that the holiday season is merry and without a computer infection or identity theft, AVAST Software offers the following tips for online shoppers:
Think before you click. If something looks suspicious, it probably is – so don’t click on it. Cyber criminals know it is easier to circumvent any antivirus program if the computer user opens the malware. This is called social engineering.
Find a good antivirus program. You cannot rely on your eyes to visually spot malware. Get an antivirus program that can spot infected and hijacked websites before they download onto your computer.
Get an expert opinion. It is highly unlikely that your friends would know all the infected sites out there. That’s why avas!t has the CommunityIQ sensor base, made up of millions of users. If something out there on the internet is dangerous – they’ll tell us about it.
Keep the spam out. For a start, get an antivirus program that scans all emails for malware. For more advanced protection, get avast!’s Internet Security with an email spam filter that sifts out the phishing attempts before they land in your inbox.