Online transactions are just convenient. At our fingertips, we can buy online, pay our bills, send money, donate, and even manage our investments. In the heat of a global pandemic, eCommerce sales surged by 248% at the end of May 2020, compared to pre-pandemic statistics.
Those growing their small business experienced an enormous boom as consumers had no choice but to purchase things online.
Shopify, for instance, saw a 64% increase in new Shopify stores in the heart of the pandemic. Shopify is an eCommerce app that gives small businesses a user-friendly way to build and manage their site for a monthly fee and keep all their sales.
But are online transactions that safe? Is the convenience worth the risks of online transactions?
Risks of Online Transactions:
1. Credit Card Fraud
Credit card fraud is one of the most severe risks of online transactions. Fraud can happen when your physical card gets stolen, and thieves can crack it and use it. It can also occur when your credit card details get hacked digitally, maybe through phishing or smishing attacks, and malicious links you may be lured to click through on the internet.
Phishing scams have increased as hackers use coronavirus to victimize unsuspecting workers, suddenly shifting to remote work.
Fraud through your credit card can also and through physical threats like stolen smartphone or laptop that contains sensitive information. RFID-skimming devices can also be used by cyber thieves to take your card information in public. It is why it is crucial to make sure your purse, or wherever you keep your cards, are protected from RFID scanning.
A credit card skimmer can also be installed anywhere, with the intent of stealing your information the moment you swipe your card. You need to be carefulwhenever you swipe your cards. Check your records right away so you can track if there is any suspicious activity happening through your card.
Whichever way your credit card information gets stolen is not as worse as the effects of a stolen card or credit card information. It results in unauthorized use of your information to take your money, make illegal transfers or purchases.
Although there are laws that can cover you in case this happens, it is still such a grave security threat when it does. Inform your bank and the authorities right away in case this happens to you.
Stay safe when you are doing online transactions. Be cautious in giving your credit card information and make sure to always select to secure payment options. You can pay via PayPal and similar and other similar he-payment solutions. This way, you need not give your credit card information repeatedly every time you make a purchase.
Protect yourself from phishing scams at all costs. It pays to be cautious, to double-check, and never to act when you are in doubt. Avoid phishing scams.
Never give your personal information, especially your banking and credit card information via phone, app link, and the like. Good businesses will not ask for your credit card number in this manner.
It is indeed convenient to do online purchasing and other transactions. But in its convenience, we must not let our guard down in terms of security protocols to ensure that our online transactions are safe and secured.
2. Identity Theft
Identity theft is the deliberate and fraudulent gain and use of someone’s identity for financial gain. There are many ways your identity can be stolen,and each one can affect you differently. The consequences may range from theft to legal consequences in case the victim gets entangled with the identity thief’s actions. Just like credit card fraud, victims are covered by law once identity theft has been established.
As an online user doing business and other transactions online, you need to safeguard your information well. You cannot just leave behind sensitive information all over the internet, mainly since cyber thieves lurk at every corner of the digital space.
3. Cybercrime and Data Breach
Another risk that most users doing online transactions fail to avoid is the lack of cyber security and data privacy measures.
One of technology’s pitfalls is that your personal information is always at risk. If you are transacting online, even more so, you need to be careful. Use VPN every time you are encoding sensitive information, especially if you are an eCommerce business. Never transact online using a public network system or public Wi-Fi. Sometimes, even the tiniest of vulnerabilities in our system, or even just with our digital hygiene like not logging out properly of our accounts, can lead to identity theft and fraud.
You need to make sure your devices—laptops, computers, mobile devices—are protected. Sadly, most users do not think it necessary to secure their devices even with simple anti-virus software. It is what most hackers bank on, that you will not have cybersecurity systems, firewalls or VPNs set in place to cover your tracks
You need to know how an anti-virus works and why you need to have one.
Cyber-attacks like viruses or malware are meant to steal and wreak havoc into your system.
A computer virus is a kind of malicious code or program written to change how a computer operates. It is meant to spread from one computer or network to another. The moment it infects a vulnerable system, it can gain control, steal user sensitive data, especially admin account information and banking details for online transactions.
How to Make Online Transactions Secure
1. Use your private network or use a VPN when doing online transactions.
Only use secured connections when you shop or do online banking. You can set simple security protocols such as shopping only from home or using a VPN if you are outside
Never shop, transfer cash, or access your bank account online when using unsecured networks. Public Wi-Fi, even in seemingly secured places such as a hotel lobby or airport lounge,isan excellent location for hackers to prey on unsuspecting victims.
2. Use secured or HTTPS networks and secure payment methods in online transactions.
Never make online transactions on an unsecured website (HTTP). That extra “s” on “HTTPS” websites means your security. That small lock symbol on the address bar means you are on a secured site. Any information you enter on an HTTPS site is guarded and secured.
You still need to be careful, though, when you are doing online transactions. Working on an HTTPS site is only one of the security measures you need to practice in layering up on cybersecurity and data privacy
Credit cards are still the safest way to purchase items online, compared to direct wire transfers, bank transfers. Avoid using a card directly connected to your savings or payroll account.
Also, make it a staple to use an online payment service you trust, like PayPal, so you do not have to keep giving your bank and card details to different merchants and online payment systems.
3. Save online transaction records.
Always save records of online transactions, like invoices and receipts. Save the emails containing these records and store them in a separate folder on your email.
Also, keep emails containing bank statements and credit card reports. Care to check these records sent to you, so you can monitor if there is any suspicious purchases or subscriptions done under your account.
It is best to daily reconcile your accounts to track if there is any discrepancy. Time is of the essence since most attackers do not need a long time to waste when they can crack through your online credentials and steal your information and your money.
4. Use complicated passwords, authentication methods, and the like.
Use complicated passwords on your accounts you use for online transactions. Change your password and pin routinely and use two-step verification processes to add another layer of protection.
If you are on a corporate network, make sure every user has his or her password. It will be easier to track culprits in case a data breach or cybercrime happens internally.
Create a cybersecurity and data protection culture in your team and vendors. If this is not a priority in your company, employees may open a phishing email and unknowingly click a link that crashes your system and corrupts your network. It has happened, even with big-name companies. The vulnerabilities in your system can come from a simple human error.
You and your team should never click on any links in an email, text, and other platforms that ask for sensitive data like identification, social security, and banking
5. Get robust cybersecurity and data privacy protection for online transactions.
Cyberattackers have become more creative over the years, as cybersecurity measures have evolved and become more rigid. You need to know the different trends and threats to cybersecurity, so you are aware of what to avoid and what to use every time you make online transactions.
Always update your anti-virus and firewall security software.It is an excellent practice to do so, especially every time you get prompted. There are cyber attacks that happen every second all over the world. Cybersecurity networks continually release updates not just to resolve internal issues, but to release fixes and patches to the most recent cyber-attacks. These update notifications should never be ignored then, for your protection and safety.
Conclusion: Exercise Caution When Doing Online Transactions
Yes, there are risks to online transactions that we need to avoid. But the benefits of online transactions are far more than the risks it poses. Convenience is one of them, but in a time of pandemic, the topmost reason is to preserve human touch and, ultimately, save lives. Online transactions guarantee a continuance in the eCommerce industry amid the global crisis. In whatever innovation, the pros and cons will always be there. It is up to us, how we conduct ourselves online, covering our tracks, making sure we layer up with cyber protection and data privacy protocols.