Stay secure while shopping online this festive season

Don't let crime ruin your holiday
Follow a few simple rules and guidelines to ensure your online shopping adventure is safe and secure. 
Johann van Rooyen
The end of the year is filled with frenzied shopping, Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals and online shopping.
Although in Namibia, most of us still shop at physical stores, there is a shift to shopping online, and the convenience alone is worth it.
As we approach the ‘most wonderful time of the year,’ we think about buying presents online.
This comes with a downside, as criminals target online shoppers using increasingly sophisticated methods.
Cybercrime and fraud are worth hundreds of billions of dollars a year.
Crooks can cause huge financial problems, compromise IT systems and devices, and ruin Christmas in the process.

Be vigilant
Each time we access the internet on one of our many devices to shop for that perfect present, we at risk of being targeted by hackers through viruses and malware, for example.
We may think we are shopping online on a secure website. However, phishing attacks and 'replica' websites, which look and feel like the real deal, engage the user and ask for personal data and credit card details, leaving you very exposed.
You can buy presents from the comfort of your own home without compromising your security. It starts with having a robust, up-to-date virus scanner and installing all necessary updates. A free virus scanner will not give you the protection you need. The simplest, and perhaps most obvious, is that if an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is.

There are a few other rules to follow as well:

• Make sure you buy from trusted sellers and online shops.
• Make sure there is a little padlock in the bottom corner of the website, denoting that it is secure.
• Do not save any banking information on a website, however convenient it may seem.
• Do not shop while using a public Wi-Fi network, unless you are using a proper virtual private network (VPN).
• Always use strong passwords for a website. A combination of letters, numbers and symbols is usually best. This makes hacking into your accounts much harder.
• Use your gut instinct; if something feels off, don’t engage further and log off.

Cybercrime is one of the biggest growth markets, and anyone can fall victim. Vigilance and robust cybersecurity software are essential. They can mean the difference between a happy holiday season and a ruined festive season, with a potentially huge negative financial impact.
In Namibia, there is a lack of training and knowledge regarding basic IT security processes. That's why it's crucial to emphasise the importance of staying safe online, especially during the holiday season, both at home and in your workplace. Compromising your family's online security may not be the only risk; it could extend to the organisation you work for. If you are apprehensive about shopping online, do some research first, checking reviews for the online store you are about to buy from.
Before you start shopping online this holiday season, be vigilant and stay safe in cyberspace to ensure you will have a wonderful holiday season. Happy shopping.