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6 Tips To Stay Secure While Shopping Online

6 Tips To Stay Secure While Shopping Online

The holiday season is here, and that means consumers will be opening their wallets to gear up for parties, gift exchanges, and family gatherings— and an increasing amount of this spending is being done online. A survey conducted by UPS found that 2016 marked the first year where consumers reported making more purchases online than they did offline, at 51%; this is up from 48% in 2015 and 47% in 2014.

It’s easy to understand why so many of us have embraced online shopping: It’s easy, convenient, and far less stressful than cramming into a crowded mall or lining up outside a store at 3 a.m. in eight-degree weather. Unfortunately, online shopping has also opened up consumers to cyber crimes. While consumers scour online shopping sites for deals on gifts and Christmas decor, cybercriminals lurk behind the scenes, ready to harvest credit card information and personal data.

I spoke with Santosh Varughese, President and CEO of Cognetyx, about what consumers can do to stay safe from cybersecurity threats while shopping online. Here’s the insight he shared with me:

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1. Make Sure Your Devices Are Up To Date And Have Anti-Virus Protection

The first step to protecting yourself from cyber crimes is to ensure that all of your devices, whether a desktop, laptop or cellphone, are kept up to date. New cyber threats emerge daily, and OS and software updates often can address them. This includes updating your web browsers—something that’s easy to overlook.

No computer should be without anti-virus protection (not even Macs). Preferably, your anti-virus software should include additional cyber attack protection, such as firewalls and spam filtering.

2. Secure Your Home Network

Most people don’t change the default passwords their devices are shipped with. These default passwords are widely available online. Armed with this information, hackers are able to take control of peoples’ routers and other smart devices, often without their knowledge, that are then used to launch a massive cybersecurity attack.

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  • If you have not yet changed your router’s default password, do so immediately, as well as the default passwords for your smart TV and any other smart devices in your home. Hackers can use ‘unsecure these devices’ to break into your network and make their way to your computer.
  • Ensure that your wifi network is secured with WPA2 and requires a strong password for access. Change the default password your internet provider assigned you when your internet service was first connected.

3. Stick With Known Retailers And Double-Check URLs

Sticking with popular and reputable e-commerce sites, such as Amazon, Walmart, or eBay, is always a good practice. However, it is incredibly easy for hackers to set up a phoney version of a legitimate retailer’s website, so always check to make sure you are accessing the website you think you are:

  • When in doubt, use an online fake website detector.
  • Beware of buying from sites with domains that end in “.org”, “.tv”, and other extensions that are almost never used in e-commerce.
  • Look for a “green lock” indicator directly to the left of the URL. If this is missing, this means the site does not have a high level of security that has been guaranteed by a known entity such asVerisign or Symantec.
  • Make sure that the website’s address begins in “https,” which indicates that the website is secure and the information provided by you will be encrypted.
  • Double-check the site’s URL for minor variations in spelling.
  • Type in the URL by hand or use your browser bookmark; never follow links from social media posts, emails, or SMS messages.

4. Be Careful Using Mobile Shopping Apps

Mobile internet access is exploding, with mobile representing over 65% of all digital media time – and apps are being used more often than mobile websites. Mobile analytics company, App Annie, reported that consumers spent a whopping 80 million hours on mobile shopping apps in the week leading up to Black Friday this year. Shopping apps are convenient and often offer better functionality on a mobile device than a website. However, just as hackers can set up phoney websites, they can also build fake shopping apps, so follow these precautions:

  • Download shopping apps only from reputable sources, such as the Google Play Store or the Apple App store.
  • Before downloading an app, read the reviews and comments to see if anyone else noted something suspicious – or if the app has nothing but glowing reviews that sound like they were all written by the same person.
  • Don’t just click “I agree” without reading what permissions an app asks for. Read them carefully, and if you see something that bothers you or that doesn’t make sense, such as if the app wants to access your contacts, don’t allow it to do so – or discontinue the installation.

Additionally, you should always log out of online shopping (and banking) apps completely after you are done using them, and don’t let your mobile device store any of your passwords or payment information. Enable a passcode on your phone or tablet in case your device is stolen.

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5. Pay Safe

When shopping online, payment methods matter:

  • Never pay for an online purchase with a wire transfer; this is a favorite method of scammers.
  • Avoid paying with debit cards or e-checks, as this could tie up the money in your bank account during a dispute. Use a credit card with strong fraud protection or a Paypal account that is linked to one.
  • If you don’t have a credit card, use a prepaid debit card.

Additionally, you should never access your bank account, make purchases, or transmit any other sensitive data over public wifi networks, such as those found in hotels, airports, and restaurants. If you need to buy something or access your bank account while on the go, set up your mobile phone as a secure wifi hotspot and tether your computer to it. Make sure that you set up the tethering using a secure password and WPA2 security, and turn off the tethering capability when you are finished using it.

6. Consider Using a VPN

For extra protection when shopping or banking online, consider using a VPN, or a virtual private network. A VPN creates a secure, encrypted connection between your computer and the VPN provider’s server, allowing you to make purchases and access your bank account even on an unsecured or public wifi connection. This prevents anyone from intercepting your activity in a man-in-the-middle attack. Using a VPN is easy and requires no additional hardware, and any desktop, laptop, or mobile device can use a VPN. There are multiple VPN services available; some are free, while others require a paid subscription.

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Shopping apps, “deal” websites, one-click checkout—the same technological advances that have made online shopping so easy have also made it possible for hackers to compromise the networks of even the biggest retailers. But by taking proactive steps to protect yourself and your personal data, you can keep cyber criminals from spoiling your holidays.

Featured photo credit: Shutterstock via shutterstock.com

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Last Updated on January 13, 2020

11 Brain Training Apps to Train Your Mind and Improve Memory

11 Brain Training Apps to Train Your Mind and Improve Memory

Whether at work or at school, people these days are under tremendous pressure to perform, perform and perform! Stress and pressure can have adverse affects on the well-being of a person, and need to be controlled.

Now, this doesn’t mean you make a dash to your nearest therapist. There are a number of wonderful and smart apps that you can use on your phone. These brain training apps have been scientifically designed to target specific areas of the human mind and control harmful emotions such as anxiety, as well as to improve memory and sharpness of the brain.

Here are 11 iPhone apps that you will not only enjoy but also find useful in keeping your mental health balanced at all times.

1. Lumosity

This app consists of games that focus on improving the user’s memory, problem-solving capability, attention span, and thinking. There are three games in each session, and they challenge the brain by changing every time. The user has to complete the games while playing against a clock.

Free of trial. $15 per month for the full version.

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Luminosity Mind training apps-Lifehack

    2. Fit Brains Trainer

    This brain training app has 10 sets of games that work on different areas of the brain and improve memory as well as concentration. A user is required to finish a particular task from each category on a daily basis and the app tracks the progress by a color coded graph.

    Free.

    Fit Brains Trainer Mind training apps-Lifehack

      3. CogniFit Brain Fitness

      Developed with the help of neuroscientists, this fun app improves a person’s cognitive abilities, which includes memory and concentration. The progress made by the user over a period of time can be tracked. Users can also play challenge rounds with their friends. The app also modifies the difficulty level to suit the profile of the user and provide recommendations based on the results. Spending 20–30 minutes a few times every week can give measurable improvement in the performance of a user.

      First four games free, then $13 a month.

      cognifit-Mind Training Apps-Lifehack

        4. Brain Fitness Pro

        The makers of this app claim that it can improve the IQ of a user, and improve intelligence and memory. The app is fun and is user friendly, and 30 minutes a day can fetch you results in less than three weeks.

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        Buy for $3.99.

        5. Happify

        If nothing else makes you happy in life, this app will. Well, this is what the developers claim at least. This app comes loaded with lots of quizzes, polls and gratitude journals, which work on the fundamentals of positive psychology. The app also helps to control stress and emotions to make you feel better.

        Free to use.

        Happify-Mind Training Apps-Lifehack

          6. Clockwork Brain

          You will like the little gold robot that comes in every time to explain the next game you are going to play. While the games are not much different to those offered in apps such as Luminosity, the look and feel reminds me of a workshop from old times.

          Free.

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          Clockwork Trsin-Mind Training Apps-Lifehack

            7. ReliefLink

            Initially created as an app for suicide prevention, it has found its use as a great app for tracking the mood of the user by taking measure of all things relevant to the user’s mental health. In case the user experiences high emotional stress, the app has a coping mechanism that includes voice-recorded mindfulness, exercises and music for relaxation. There is also a map that informs the user of the nearest therapist and medical facilities for mental health treatment.

            Relief Link - Mind Training Apps - Lifehack

              8. Eidetic

              Eidetic is a memory enhancement app and uses a ‘spaced repetition’ technique to help users memorize information such as important phone numbers, words, credit card details or passwords. It also notifies you when it’s time to take a test to see what you remember, so that you retain information in your long-term memory.

              Eidetic - Mind Training Apps - Lifehack

                9. Braingle

                Braingle helps to maintain the sharpness of the brain and improve the reasoning ability of a person through riddles and optical illusions. It is different from other brain training apps that employ memory and reaction based tests. You can also compete with your friends and family members in figuring out the fun riddles.

                Free.

                Briangle- Mind Training Apps-LIfehack

                  10. Not The Hole Story

                  If you have a penchant for solving hard riddles, then this app is a must-have for you. Filled with exclusive riddles along with a simple-to-use interface, the app gives you riddles that you have to solve through a book. You will be given hints along the way, and when you give up, the answers will be revealed. This app will encourage you to broaden your thinking and put your mind to a challenging test.

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                  Free.

                  Not the hole story - Mind Training Apps - Lifehack

                    11. Personal Zen

                    This fun brain training app follows the journey of two animated characters who travel through a field of grass. Personal Zen is a nice app meant for reducing anxiety and trains the brain to focus on the positive aspects. The developer’s advice is to use the app for 10 minutes a day to see the best results.

                    Free.

                    personal zen- mind training apps - lifehack

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                      Featured photo credit: NeONBRAND via unsplash.com

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