If there’s one thing gadgets have done, it’s made shopping even easier. Internet commerce has always proven popular but with mobile devices and wireless internet technology, shopping can be done from work, home and virtually everywhere in between – but is it safe?
The rise of gadgets
Mobile phones make online shopping very easy, as we need only reach into our pocket. In fact, it’s so popular in the UK that Argos, a popular shopping chain, claims one in five sales are made through a mobile device. Today, these devices are essentially miniature computers, as they carry enough processing power to handle complex tasks. Apple uses iOS on its iPhones and the popular competitor, Android, is a variant of the Linux operating system used on various computers. This gives the average phone or tablet modern flexibility, which can help improve safety.
Given that all devices work similarly to computers, we can use more advanced code to protect ourselves online without having to offer dumber versions for mobile browsers. For instance, PKI (Public Key Infrastructure) is an important tool in Open SSL’s encryption. This allows secure communication between two users or between user and server. Thanks to systems like this, we can use our phones to shop online without worrying about our financial data.
That said, no single measure is ever perfect. While many companies invest heavily in SSL certifications, advanced firewalls and more secure servers, there is always something that can be done on the user end of this process.
For instance, while SSL and PKI helps to create a secure, encrypted connection, using the likes of open network, public Wi-Fi only invites risk. It is not unheard of for hackers to set these up in a deliberate attempt to monitor keystrokes or obtain information.
Furthermore, encryption cannot protect you against having an easy password. A survey by SplashData last year found the top 3 passwords were “123456”, “password” and “12345678”. Not only do these fall easily to a dictionary attack, they are very easy to guess. One of the ways to ensure you have a secure password is to use password generator services that will provide you with highly secure password with a mix of numbers, upper and lower case numbers and some symbols, making it harder for hackers. Some websites offer alerts, so that after a number of attempts you will be noticed or warned to change your password.
Many websites also carry security signs to show that they have ensure safety precautions like SSL, to make sure user details are secure.
So is it safe to shop online?
Online shopping is as safe as you the user and the e-commerce merchant you are buying from are; there are measures you should take to protect yourself and ultimately, always keep an eye on your account for any suspicious transactions, so you can rectify them if any security breach occurs.