Online shopping: Privacy and security tips


Global lockdown, social distancing, and other health measures, which were introduced to limit the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, have completely altered customers’ purchasing behavior worldwide.

As physical store visits were limited and many people were short on cash, consumers turned to the Internet to shop, causing online purchases to skyrocket. Besides the meteoric rise in online sales, there is also a significant shift in eCommerce spending and shopping frequency.

According to studies, the factors driving the online consumer behavior during the pandemic include strong and sustained growth in Internet users and increased awareness of online shopping, increasingly active online product releases, low prices due to bulk purchases, etc.

As with most online activities, there are clear tradeoffs between convenience, cost savings, choice, and privacy. One of the most attractive aspects of online shopping is that you can buy almost anything you want without ever leaving your house. Besides, online stores are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and can be accessed from anywhere with an Internet connection.

However, when you shop online, you give up some of your privacy rights to the online retailer. Online stores can track your purchases overtime to make more suggestions for items you might like to buy, send you emails with sale information, and sell your contact information to other companies on occasion. Several studies show that consumers perceive higher risks buying online than in a conventional way.

This post presents some of the big security threats to online shoppers and key privacy and security tips to follow while you shop online.

Security threats

1. Phishing

Phishing is one of the most common security issues that online shoppers face. As the name implies, clickbait is used to persuade a user to divulge sensitive information such as passwords and credit card numbers. Phishing is a type of fraud in which fraudsters send emails from well-known companies to obtain personal information. The main weapon of phishing is disguised emails, intending to dupe a user with an urgent message, such as a user’s bank request to download a form. Phishing can also trick users into downloading malware, which usually comes in the form files or Office documents with malicious code embedded in them.

2. Fake online stores

Numerous online stores exist on the Internet that persuades people to buy fake goods. These products are never delivered to those who ordered them once they have been purchased. These businesses imitate legitimate businesses and, in some cases, steal their identities.

3. Adware

On online shopping platforms and social media sites, users can be bombarded with advertisements. These advertisements can be illegitimate at times, and they usually offer attractive incentives. When a user clicks on an ad, he or she is asked for personal information that an unauthorized third party can later steal.

4. Identity theft

Identity theft is carried out by keeping track of an online shopper’s activities. The crime perpetrators carefully monitor customers’ activities as they communicate with merchants via online stores to be in a good position to masquerade as merchants or online shoppers.

Privacy and security tips

The majority of people enjoy online shopping, but the difficulty arises when protecting one’s personal information. Most people are unfamiliar with online shopping, and trusting a new technology takes time and money. Malicious hackers are scouring the Internet for sensitive data as more people embrace online shopping. As a result, when purchasing items online, users should protect their personal information.

1. Pay securely

Never shop or make any payment unless you are on a secure website. It will protect you against fraud and unauthorized credit card transactions. A secure website’s address will begin with “HTTPS://” rather than “HTTP://” when you log in with your account information. It denotes a safe HTTP connection. In your internet browser window’s address bar, a padlock should appear in the top right-hand corner. Make a payment only if both of these items are there. A secure website encrypts your communication with a merchant, thus preventing third parties from intercepting important details.

2. Know the business

If you aren’t sure if the company is legitimate, don’t give out your bank account number, credit card number, or other personal information. Only purchase from websites you are familiar with and trust. Make sure the business has a physical address and a landline phone number. If the company is based in another country, you may have difficulty getting a refund or a repair. If you’re unsure, stick to large companies’ websites that you’re already familiar with — they’re more likely to have a secure website.

3. Use credit cards

Another precaution online shoppers can consider when shopping online is using credit cards instead of debit cards. Credit cards have in-built defenses that are safer when compared to debit cards. Credits are connected to the bank’s cash, while debit cards are connected to one’s bank account. Consequently, one’s bank account is at a greater risk of being hacked when using a debit card. Moreover, encryption and validation techniques have made the credit card comparatively secure compared to the debit card.

4. Use secure connection

Online shoppers should also consider the security of the Wi-Fi connections to access the Internet and online shopping sites. It is recommended that one should use his or her Wi-Fi connection. If one has no other option other than using Public Wi-Fi, the individual should encrypt communication to prevent eavesdropping of financial data by fraudulent third parties.

5. Privacy policy

Before providing any information, always read the privacy policies of a website. Don’t give your information if something doesn’t sound right! Don’t give out your credit card to just anyone on the street, and don’t do it online either. Never trust emails that request your credit card number or other personal information, even if they appear to come from PayPal or Also, if the email asks for this information, don’t click on any links in the email—most of it is likely a scam. Smaller websites frequently use PayPal that exclusively handles online purchases. PayPal is generally considered safe, but read the privacy policies carefully and be wary of imposters!

Let’s sum up.

Online shopping is a new technique revolutionizing the shopping experience. Conventional shopping methods come with inconveniences such as long queues and a small range of items to choose from. Online shopping platforms are advantageous since they eradicate the need to physically appear at a physical shopping promise when one needs a certain commodity. Online shopping further enables a more informed selection of the preferred models or products without frequent searches across stores. While online shopping proves convenient and less stressful, it is subject to malicious attacks from malware and other parties that compromise data safety, security, and integrity.