Shopping online is not limited to Cyber Monday. Many of us are fond of the ease and convenience of online shopping, not to mention the considerable savings we sometimes achieve. However, there is always a question about the safety of the online shopping experience. Recently, the password management company, LastPass did a security comparison of ten popular online retailers and rated them for security considering the following factors:
1. Password requirement
2. Assistance in setting up a strong password
3. Use of a security question
4. Simplicity of security question
5. Automatic encryption of data
6. Storage of personal data
The optimum score would be by a company that required a password, provided assistance in evaluating the strength of your password, required a security question asking for information not readily available to an identity thief, automatically used encryption for transfer of data and stored the least information necessary. At the top of LastPass’ list was the Apple App Store, eBay and Macy’s. At the bottom of their list was JC Penny and Sears.
The best place to find a helping hand is, as always, at the end of your own arm. When shopping online, you should always make sure that a password is necessary and that you use a strong password. You can find information about setting up a strong password in the archives of Scamicide. Security questions are always a good idea and an even better idea is to make a nonsensical answer to your security question which will turn a weak security question, such as your mother’s maiden name into a strong security question. For example, if your mother’s maiden name is “Smith,” make the answer to the question “Grapefruit.” No one will find that answer by doing research. Never provide credit card information unless the transaction is encrypted which you can determine by looking for “https” rather than merely “http” at the beginning of the website address line. Finally, regardless of how convenient it may be, don’t leave your credit card stored with the retailer for future use. Insert the credit card anew each time you purchase something. Leaving your credit card information with the retailer just makes you more vulnerable in the event of a data breach of the retailer.