Tech – for Everyone

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

Shopping Online? Read This.*

More people are doing their gift-buying online than at the mall.  It’s a fact: there are more reasons to do your shopping online this year than there were before ($3½-per-gallon reasons). And, shopping on the Internet has been around for a while now… it is no longer a new, and frightening development.

But just because e-commerce has matured, and because we have made prior purchases without getting burned, doesn’t mean we need to let down our guard.. or assume that all the bugs are ironed out.. or think that all the frauds and huckster are so amateurish as to be easily recognized (like the guy selling TVs out of the trunk of his car is easily recognized). No! Be not lulled! Be not complacent!
Let’s, Dear Holiday Shopper, be careful out there!

It is likely that you have read, or heard, warnings about safe Internet shopping (and, I have written such advice here in prior articles) before; but, let’s review the basics:
1) Never enter personal information — much less your credit card number — on a webpage that is not showing two things: a gold lock icon in the address bar of your browser, and the “s” in the https:// beginning of the website URL.
To review my article on this topic, click here.


1A) There a sub-advisory here: click on the gold lock icon– if your browser tells you that there is a “problem” with this website’s “certificate”…


..such as shown above, it does not necessarily mean this is a fraudulent website BUT do not make a purchase here. Err on the side of caution and move on to a different vendor.

2) Hopefully “phishing” is not an unfamiliar term to you, but have you heard of “pharming“? Frequently, this is a ‘look-alike’ website. The idea is to get you to enter your pertinent information, and clearly you want to avoid these pure-fraud website’s whenever possible. To do so, never click on links to websites you recieve in an email. Enter the URL manually into your browser’s address bar (or Copy>Paste it).
Also, when you’re shopping online, turn on your browser’s phishing filter, or do a “spot check”. In IE, click on the “Tools” button, click on “Phishing Filter”, and then “Check this Website”.


Another very good website checker is McAfee’s Site Advisor. Here you can enter the URL for the website and get a report of the site’s ‘rating’, or you can download a browser “plug in” which will provide an automated Rating indicator.

Basic Safety Tips for Online Shopping

Please review this short checklist, and be a smarter, safer shopper.

  • Download/Install Software Updates — Regularly!
  • Use Complex Passwords (include numerals and symbols — @#$%^&*[])
  • Use ‘Onetime’ Credit Cards.
  • Verify Secure Connections before entering any info.
    See that little padlock symbol at the bottom of your screen, and in the URL address bar?
  • Check Your Credit report – make it a routine.
  • Enter Your Shopping Site’s Web Address Manually, and double-check your typing (embedded links = no!).
  • Shop From Your Own computer (not a public ‘hotspot’).
  • Enable your browser’s phishing filter, or install an add-on. (such as the super-easy WOT toolbar)
  • Do not 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’ [aka “vulnerability”], 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 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, I suggest you 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.

Well, I’m out of time for today. Shopping on the Internet can be a great time and money saver. Have a good weekend and, please, be careful out there.

Bonus (for reading down this far): Friday is the BIG day for WinPatrol. This is, basically, a steal for $5.00 US.

 Bits from Bill “…….plans for having a INCREDIBLE sale on upgrades to WinPatrol PLUS. Starting Friday we’ll allow upgrading to WinPatrol PLUS as low as $5 USD. Yes, I wrote $5!This unbelievable price will be available for three full days. The sale starts midnight, Friday morning EST time zone.”

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.

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December 8, 2011 Posted by | advice, how to, Internet, Phishing, phraud, security | | Leave a comment