Advertising
Advertising

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:

Advertising

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.

Advertising

  • 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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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

More by this author

Hira Saeed

Startup Evangelist

Tech deals and Mergers 10 Biggest Tech Mergers and Acquisitions of 2016 Top 10 Design Predictions for 2017 5 Useful Chatbots for Small Business Owners 6 Tips to Make the Most of Your Used Gadgets 6 Tips To Stay Secure While Shopping Online

Trending in App

1 Introducing 13 Useful Free Apps For you To Install Today 2 7 Essential Tools Every Serious Startup Needs 3 13 Secret Google Functions That Can Instantly Make Your Life Happier And Easier 4 Appraisal of the iPhone Family Tracker app 5 13 Google Apps That Can Greatly Simplify Your Life

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on October 16, 2019

11 Meeting Scheduler Apps to Boost Your Productivity

11 Meeting Scheduler Apps to Boost Your Productivity

Automations are key to improving efficiency. Set the system up right from the beginning and you’ll reduce the amount of no-shows and cancellations.

Whatever your business is, with automations, meeting scheduler apps do more than just streamline appointment setting. They prime your workflow for maximum results.

Meeting scheduler apps are awesome if you use them right. Use them wrong and you can look like an arrogant elitist.

In this article, I will share with you 11 great meeting scheduler apps you can start using today to boost your productivity.

1. ScheduleOnce

    ScheduleOnce is an industry leader and robust solution. Whether you work alone or have a large team, ScheduleOnce can support you.

    ScheduleOnce allows you to create multiple users and multiple calendars. I use one calendar for booking podcast guests with automations set up to prep my guests for our interview. I use another calendar for strategy sessions and coaching calls.

    ScheduleOnce also has embeddable widgets so you can keep the scheduler inside your own website.

    Starting at $7 a month and a 14 day free trial, ScheduleOnce can fit a variety of needs in business.

    Available on Web

    2. Calendly

      Calendly stands out for its clean, easy to use interface. If you like clean design, Calendly might be your choice. It too has robust automations and integrations for individuals and teams alike.

      You can try Calendly free for 14 days. Their basic plan is free while their most robust plan is only $12 a month.

      Advertising

      Available on Web | Google Chrome Extension

      3. Assistant.to

        For those who use gmail, Assistant.to is a super simple solution.

        From inside an email, you click on the Assistant.to icon and pick times your free. Assistant.to embeds the times directly into the email so the recipient can quickly pick a time that works for them.

        While it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of apps like Calendly or ScheduleOnce, Assistant.to is completely free.

        Available on Web

        4. Acuityscheduling

          Acuity is a robust meeting scheduler very similar to ScheduleOnce. It integrates with CRMs, Email Marketing platforms, Analytics tools and accounting software.

          It comes with a 14 day free trial. They have a free solo account but if you want the benefit of the integrations, you’ll start as low as $15 a month and can cost up to $50 a month.

          Available on Web | iOS | Android

          5. Pick

            Built for simplicity, Pick is direct and easy to use. You can create your own url extension like pick.co/yournamehere and it integrates with Google calendar and Office 365.

            At $3 a month, this is a great tool for quick scheduling.

            Advertising

            Available on Web

            6. X.ai

              For those who are early adopters of AI, this may be the solution for you. X.ai created two AI assistants they call Amy and Andrew Ingram. After setting up your account you simply CC them on your emails with the person you’re wanting to schedule and the AI assistants will email your guests from there until your appointment is set.

              This type of scheduler feels more personal because of the dialogue. There are stories on their site of people thinking Amy and Andrew are real people. X.ai integrates with Google, Office 365 and Outlook.

              Starting at $29 a month for an Individual account and $39 a month per user for a Team account, Amy and Andrew are ready to schedule meetings for you. Want to try it out first? They do have a free trial.

              Available on Web

              7. YouCanBook.me

                is another competitive solution for scheduling meetings online. You can manage the calendars of your entire team, configure booking forms, and integrate with your calendar.

                They have a free account branded with their company name or you can have some control over your branding and appearance at $10 a month for all their features. Either way, this company is worth a look.

                Available on Web

                8. Doodle

                  Doodle is unique in the space of meeting schedulers because it helps groups of people find a time to meet that works for everyone.

                  It integrates with your calendar and allows you to send a poll to all invited. Once people vote on the poll you can see which time works best for everyone.

                  Advertising

                  You can also run polls for food preferences if you’re scheduling a lunch meeting or a section of town if people are coming from all over.

                  While there is a free account, you’ll unlock it’s potential starting at $39 per year.

                  Available on Web | iOS | Android

                  9. WhenAvailable

                    WhenAvailable is another scheduler that works for groups of people. You can use it to schedule a pickup game of basketball, decide on your next book club or book your family reunion.

                    Their free account allows up to 20 guests, unlimited events and one contact group. For $15 a year you unlock all the goodies including reminders and chat messages.

                    Available on Web

                    10. Rally

                      Like Doodle and WhenAvailable, Rallly is helpful for scheduling meetings and events with multiple people involved. You create a poll and everyone votes. It’s quick and easy.

                      Unlike Doodle, it doesn’t have as many features, but it’s entirely free.

                      Available on Web

                      11. NeedtoMeet

                        Finishing strong, NeedtoMeet is our last app that allows you to schedule meetings or events for multiple people. It has mobile apps, custom urls, easy polling, notifications and commenting.

                        Advertising

                        NeedtoMeet also allows 1:1 Meetings for things like performance reviews for your whole team. You send out the your calendar slots to your team and they can only pick 1 slot, minimizing the amount of emails and scheduling you have to coordinate.

                        While they have a free account, you can unlock all features for only $19 a year.

                        Available on Web

                        Bonus: Don’t Make These Common Mistakes When Using Meeting Schedulers

                        In the excitement of streamlining your scheduling process, it can be easy to forget the feelings of those you’re inviting to meet. I know. I’ve done this.

                        To say “Hey, schedule time on my calendar” feels colder than “Hey, here’s my calendar. To avoid all the back and forth, pick a time that works best for you.”

                        Always make sure to frame your invite with your scheduler app with the benefit to them and why we’re doing it this way rather than the old fashioned, personal way.

                        A little finesse goes a long way. Without it, you risk seeming transactional and cold.

                        Some meeting scheduler widgets you can embed in your site can take a couple seconds to load. If you go this route, make sure there’s text just above the widget that lets your guest know the calendar will appear below and to wait for it to load.

                        If you use an online meeting tool like Zoom, it’s also important to explicitly let them know the meeting will take place on Zoom and include the Zoom link in the email reminder. Many make the mistake of not clarifying where the meeting will actually take place which can create last minute chaos at the time of the meeting.

                        Should you require special settings, like ethernet, external mics or lighting, let your guests know that on your thank you page and reminder emails so they are prepared for the meeting and you end up with the best meeting possible.

                        With clear communication in your automation, your meeting scheduler tools can almost perform like a virtual assistant for a fraction of the cost, or free, depending on the app you choose.

                        The Bottom Line

                        Meeting scheduler apps are diverse in features and unique in design. Before committing to one and realizing it’s not a fit, I recommend exploring which 3 might best fit you and then doing a trial with each of them at the same time so that you can see how they feel as you use them side by side.

                        Scheduling meetings the old fashioned way can be tedious. Conversely, finding a scheduling app that works seamlessly in the background is heavenly.

                        Like cell phones, meeting scheduler apps are moving from a nice-to-have luxury to must-have necessity in the lives of productive people. As you explore your options, stay true to your brand and the tools that have worked well for you to this point and simply find a meeting scheduler app that plays well with what you have created.

                        Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

                        Read Next