Tuesday, December 13th, 2011
As the charge towards Christmas gains momentum, a growing proportion of Australian and New Zealand consumers are choosing to sidestep the hustle and bustle of the malls and are doing their gift shopping online.

AVG (AU/NZ) Pty Ltd advises that when making the switch, Internet buyers should be on high alert for online criminals and fraudsters who are employing ever more sophisticated techniques to take advantage of the Christmas rush.

As the distributor of the award-winning AVG Internet and mobile security software in Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific, AVG (AU/NZ) recommends Internet shoppers follow these safety practices:

1. Maintain a full, up to date Internet Security suite - Traditional anti-virus protection is no longer enough and the extra layers of a suite such as AVG’s Internet Security are vital when putting your personal and financial details online.

2. Extend protection to your Operating System - Web browsers and other applications also require regular security updates, so don’t be afraid to act quickly when on-screen prompts appear to update your system. It is easy for online fraud to succeed by exploiting a system vulnerability that was patched by a system vendor months or even years prior. Staying safe means staying up to date.

3. Consider your Search Engine results carefully - Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a thriving business. Companies and marketing firms spend heavily to ensure their products and services are at the top of search engine results. Don’t assume that the top results are the best as cyber criminals use the same techniques and have access to the same SEO tools as legitimate companies.

4. Is the business legitimate? - Make certain the site you are visiting is well presented and relevant to what you are searching for. Apply caution, look for errors and don’t be led down spurious links.

5. Be wary of purchasing through online advertisements - Banners, links and special offers can be dangerous distractions, especially those that make outrageous claims that seem too good to be true. Cyber criminals can capture your click and send you to an infected site.

6. Know your seller - Regardless of whether you are purchasing via a retail website or an online auction site such as eBay, you should take the time to discover as much about the seller as you can. If you are purchasing from a retail site, record the outlet’s physical address and phone number so you can readily contact them in the event of any issue. If purchasing via an auction site, it will have some form of reputation monitoring system to confirm the seller’s trustworthiness.

7. Look for the https:// site security indicator - Before entering any financial or personal details, ensure that the site’s URL in the address bar starts with https://. A closed padlock and green background will confirm that the site uses SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) encryption to scramble the data before it is sent over the Internet. It is important to note that SSL only ensures that the data is encrypted and does not guarantee that the recipient will use it legitimately.

8. Choose a strong password, and use different passwords for different sites - A strong password should ideally consist of letters (upper and lower case), numbers and symbols. Be creative and invent passwords that are easy to remember – they don’t have to look complex and random to be secure, as long as they are at least 10 characters (and preferably more) in length. Avoid using common words, or names such as pets, football teams, street addresses or members of your family. It is worth the effort to use different passwords for each site you purchase from as it immediately pays for itself if any site becomes compromised.

9. Credit or debit card for online shopping? - Contrary to common belief, credit cards are generally a better way to make online payments as they don’t involve direct transfers from your debit card linked bank account. Financial institutions invest heavily to protect their credit card marketshare so it is usually easier to dispute and reverse fraudulent activity on a credit account than a normal bank account.

10. Extra credit card protection - Credit Card Authentication such as Verified by Visa or Mastercard SecureCode are ’3D Secure’ services which have been developed to facilitate a secure online connection between cardholders and their card issuer at the time of purchase. These services are designed to improve consumer trust in purchasing goods online.

11. Keep receipts and check statements – Save a PDF or print a copy of every tax invoice or payment receipt that online vendors are required to provide. Don’t assume the vendor will send an email, so collect all paperwork at the first opportunity. And check each purchase on your bank statement for any hidden costs or erroneous billing.

12. Keep your knowledge current - There are many resources available to Australian consumers through sites such as SCAMwatch, Stay Smart Online and Shop Safe.

Michael McKinnon, Security Advisor at AVG (AU/NZ), said: “If you are mindful of these twelve tips as you enjoy your online shopping spree this Christmas, you’ll be far better placed as a responsible online shopper and to protect yourself from becoming another statistic in Australia’s fastest growing crime.”

For the series of informative security tips, how-to and fact sheets see:
www.avg.com.au/resources/security-tips/. For video tips from AVG (AU/NZ), see: www.youtube.com/user/avgaunz

Keep in touch with AVG (AU/NZ)
• For breaking news, follow AVG (AU/NZ) on Twitter at twitter.com/avgaunz
• Join our Facebook community at www.facebook.com/avgaunz
• For security trends, analysis, follow the AVG (AU/NZ) blog at resources.avg.com.au

Contact Profile

Keywords

AVG, Internet security, cyber criminals, Christmas, online shopping

Categories

Sharing

More Formats