Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Tips For Safe Online Shopping*

I think it is a pretty safe bet that quite a few of you are doing some last minute holiday shopping.. and that some of you are going to use the Internet to do some of that shopping.

I would like to remind you that there is a healthy, active, and well-financed underworld of cyber-criminals who are well-aware of the fact that the next few days are prime credit card and “identity” theft opportunities, and are going to be particularly active in trying to GET YOU.

You will see an increase in spam, and bogus pop-opens that tell you you are infected when you’re not. (Note: The phraudulent Skype alert is active again, too. see Skype — “Windows Requires Immediate Attention”.. Not! )

I am posting the following Basic Internet Shopping Tips in the hopes that Tech–for Everyone readers will not join the 9 million Americans who had their identities stolen last year.

  • Download Software Updates — Regularly!
  • Use Complex Passwords (include numerals and @#$%^&*[])
  • Use Onetime Credit Cards
  • Verify Secure Connections See that little padlock symbol at the bottom of your screen, and in the URL address bar?
  • Check Your Credit
  • Enter Your Shopping Site’s Web Address Manually (embedded links=no!)
  • Shop From Your Own computer (not a public ‘hotspot’)
  • Enable your browser’s phishing filter, or install a add-on. (such as the super-easy WOT toolbar)
  • Don’t Send Credit Card Information Over E-mail. Even if you think it’s secure. Don’t send it over IM either. If you feel uncomfortable about sending personal information online, call up the business.

I would like to direct your attention to the first bulletpoint. The programs on your computer need to be fully “patched” with the latest updates, as exploiting weaknesses is the primary method hackers use to infect your machines. (You visit a website that they’ve ‘poisoned’, and if you have an unpatched ‘hole’, bingo – you’re infected.)

How do you know if you have the latest updates? For all your installed programs? Do you think you are patched? Don’t guess. Be sure!

Today’s free link+download: Secunia offers a tool that I highly recommend. The online scanner (which you should bookmark, btw) will scan your machine for roughly 100 programs and tell you if there is a patch/update you need. If you go this route, you will need to visit once or twice a week.)
Better yet, they offer a download, a Personal Edition, which will scan your system against a database of over 7,000 programs.
Even better yet, it includes direct download links to the missing patches it finds.

I just ran it and it found an old ActiveX plug in, and told me that my Java Runtime Environment was out of date.. and I didn’t think I had installed JRE on this machine!

Further reading:
Computer Security – Time to Think About It

A Teen Texting Trend All Parents Should Be Aware Of

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved. post to jaanix

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December 20, 2008 - Posted by | advice, browsers, computers, cyber crime, hackers, how to, Internet scam, News, PC, Phishing, phraud, security, shopping for, software, tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. TechPaul,

    Excellent writeup! The threats are out there, but by following the steps you have outlined makes it a safer experience…



    Comment by whatsonmypc | December 20, 2008 | Reply

  2. Hey Paul – thanks for the useful info and for the link!


    Comment by Jamie | WiredParentPad | December 21, 2008 | Reply

    • Jamie–
      Thanks. That is a great article on “sexting” you wrote, and I hope my readers will visit and read it. Informative and thought-provoking.. A “must read” for parents.


      Comment by techpaul | December 22, 2008 | Reply

  3. Paul,

    This is a great piece with much better than the average lame advice we see about how to be safe while shopping online. We are mentioning you, your blog, this post, and are linking to you in a blog I am writing now (and we’ll share your blog link on our facebook profile). I hope you don’t, but if you have any concerns about this, please reach out and let me know. Thanks for the great content!

    Mike Kunkle
    DreamWorthy Gifts LLC
    Write to us:
    Shop at:


    Comment by Mike Kunkle | January 17, 2009 | Reply

    • Thank you. I try to be helpful, and write in an easy to understand way.

      As for linking/mentioning, sure. I hope people will read it, and be more ‘savvy’ and careful online.


      Comment by techpaul | January 17, 2009 | Reply

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