How to Stay Safe While Online Shopping During the Pandemic

Laura BednarBest Practices, Cybersecurity and Vulnerabilities, In The News

Safe While Online Shopping

In response to the Coronavirus pandemic and “shelter-in-place” orders, online retail traffic is up 28%, a surge only seen during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This surge in online activity affects the amount of bandwidth available for internet users everywhere. But more importantly, this increased traffic results in a higher risk for cyberattacks. In this post, we will explore the trends and changes in online shopping since the virus outbreak and the best practices for staying safe when placing an order on the web.

Contact Us Now

Shop Til You Drop

A recent article by Forbes said that the virus has caused the shutdown of over 150 retailing companies’ complete brick-and-mortar operations. Many of these stores do not have an online presence including TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and Burlington. In general, the article said that industries such as home improvement, furniture, floor coverings, and footwear are behind in the e-commerce trend.

The big box stores like Walmart, Target, and Best Buy are continuing to thrive online as they have had a healthy digital commerce market before the pandemic. However, the increase in online purchasing has caused Amazon to only accept six categories of items in its warehouse through April 5 to ensure there are enough high-demand products available. These categories are:

  • Baby products
  • Health and household
  • Beauty and personal care
  • Grocery
  • Industrial and scientific
  • Pet supplies

A report from CNN Business said that Amazon is hiring thousands of new workers to help with delivery and packaging during the influx of business. These workers will also be paid more for their labor as the company is in desperate need of people to keep the delivery process fluid.

While some places, like Amazon, are flourishing in the age of the pandemic, many small businesses without a digital presence will be feeling the effects after the virus has passed, if they remain open at all.

Security Risks for Online Shoppers

Increased web traffic gives hackers a new opportunity to exploit website vulnerabilities and the users that visit them. An inadequate wi-fi password for your home network connection or inactive firewalls allow malicious actors to access your personal files, such as the credit card number you used for online purchases. Cybercriminals are intelligent in their attack plans and in these times of trouble, they prey on those who are frightened and willing to do anything to ensure they have the supplies to survive.

One example of an attack of this nature is a fake link in emails offering discounted products or a way to buy products before anyone else. If something appears too good to be true, it most likely is. Clicking this link will most likely give your device a virus and steal your sensitive information.

Additionally, there is also a type of cyberattack known as e-skimming. In this case, a hacker skims the code off an e-commerce payment card processing web page. The credit card numbers and personally identifiable information (PII) are then used for personal use or sold on the dark web.

Director of Digital Forensics for SecureData, Allan Buxton, said, “The trend we’re seeing is that attackers target the money. Two months ago, it was POS gas pumps and the like. Now, I’d anticipate seeing a rise in attacks and exploits for e-commerce sites. For consumers, I’d suggest carefully reviewing which sites you trust to store your credit card or purchase information. E-commerce operators need to be very proactive about patching and threat detection.”

Safety During a Shopping Spree

We have outlined some of the precautions to take when participating in e-commerce in previous posts, and it is imperative to follow these tips, especially when an event causes an increased risk. Some of the preventative measures we mention include:

  • Updating anti-virus software
  • Not clicking on suspicious emails and calling to ensure their validity
  • Making sure the e-commerce site has a secure connection
  • Reading a site’s privacy policy to see how your information is stored

In this time of uncertainty at least one thing holds true, there are going to be cybersecurity risks as well as physical risks during a pandemic. The best thing anyone can do is be vigilant about how they interact with businesses and people online and in person.

Secure Forensics is ready to help you with any digital crime you experience whether it be a data breach, identity theft, fraud, or another type of cybercrime. Call us at 1-800-288-1407 for all of your cybersecurity needs.