(BPT) – More people are doing their holiday shopping online than ever before. Last year consumers spent $453.46 billion on the web for retail purchases, which was a 16 percent increase over 2016. Unfortunately, when it comes to online shopping, people are more concerned about finding the lowest price than potentially jeopardizing their personal cybersecurity in the process.
A concerning 56 percent of people are willing to use a website they are unfamiliar with if this means they can save money on their purchases, found the Holiday Stresses survey from McAfee, the device-to-cloud cybersecurity company. Even worse, 31 percent admit to clicking links in suspicious emails for better deals.
The risky online behavior doesn’t stop there. People are using public Wi-Fi to complete online purchases and are less critical of websites that offer what they are looking for at lower prices. Why? The survey found that 53 percent of online shoppers believe the stress of the holiday season can cause them to behave carelessly online.
“For most people, the holiday shopping season is a stressful time of year, especially from a financial perspective. With added stresses and distractions, people often let their guard down when it comes to their digital security, which can lead to risky consequences,” says Gary Davis, chief consumer security evangelist at McAfee.
Criminals understand this situation and use it to their advantage. Being a victim of a cybercrime is not a jolly way to spend the holiday.
“Cybercriminals know that people are less focused on security measures during this time and use that to their advantage,” says Davis. “By taking the proper steps to protect themselves and being wary of deals and offers that appear too good to be true, consumers can enjoy a safe holiday season.”
To protect yourself this holiday season and all year long, keep these safe online shopping tips in mind from Davis and the other security experts at McAfee:
Connect with caution. Using public Wi-Fi might seem like a good idea in the moment, but if consumers are not careful, they could be unknowingly exposing their personal information or credit card details to cybercriminals who are snooping on the network. If public Wi-Fi must be used to conduct transactions, use a virtual private network (VPN) to help ensure a secure connection.
Think before you click. One of the easiest ways for a cybercriminal to target victims is by using phishing emails disguised as a holiday savings or shipping notification, to lure consumers into clicking links that could lead to malware, or a phony website designed to steal personal information. Instead of clicking on a link in an email, it is always best to check directly with the source to verify an offer or shipment.
Browse with security protection. Use comprehensive security protection, like McAfee Total Protection, which can help protect devices against malware, phishing attacks and other threats. It includes McAfee WebAdvisor which can help identify malicious websites.
Use a tool to help protect your personal information. A solution like McAfee Identity Theft Protection takes a proactive approach to help protect identities with personal and financial monitoring and recovery tools to help keep identities personal and secure.