The December 2011 issue of Identity Management Journal touches upon two main points. First, this month marks the 6th anniversary of www.identity-theft-awareness.com website which has substantially grown in traffic and recognition as one of the top identity theft blogs. Second, it is reported that online business has broken yet another record in 2011 with revenues surpassing previous years.
Although the overall economy is not performing as well as we all wish it did, delivery service providers such as FedEx are expected to break their sales records due to growth in the online shopping business where consumers exchange the long lines at the stores and lack of product selection with the convenience of ordering any product online from the comfort of their home or office and having them delivered wherever they want.
If you are one of these online consumers, you must be aware that online transactions present a different set of privacy and fraud risks that we need to address. It is not uncommon for consumers to purchase items online using public computers as well as from unsecured sites. Public computers which are managed by others and shared by many users may have installed spyware to extract personal information from users and some websites may transmit information in an unsecured manner both of which can result in violation of privacy and fraud especially credit card fraud. Although consumers are aware when they are using public computers, they can not assess the security weaknesses of public computer or commercial website.
Let’s just quickly describe what we mean by a secure website. Any time, website information is viewed, the content travels from the website server to the consumer computer. Similarly, when consumers shop online, their personal information including credit card number, name and address travel from the consumers’ computer to the merchant’s server. Since such personal information is vulnerable to theft and abuse during transmission, they must be secured through encryption. For the sake of simplicity, online shoppers can identify a secured website when they notice an “S” at the end of the usual HTTP inside the URL of a website address which indicates that the information travels from the consumers’ computer to the merchant in a secured encrypted manner. Another way to make sure that the website is secure is by looking for a lock icon in the lower left or right corner of the browser window (not in the visited website).
In summary, avoid public computers as much as possible especially when using personal information to shop, bank or network online and look for the HTTPS or the lock icon for a safe online shopping. Also don’t forget to consolidate your purchases as much as possible and avoid multiple small amount purchases which are not worth the risk.
Happy shopping and holidays,
Until next time, be identity safe,
Identity Management Institute
If you are a member of Identity Management Institute, please make sure you renew your membership, especially if you are a certified professional to maintain your certification. You can renew your membership from the bottom of the IMI membership page.
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