In 2019, online shopping overtook traditional retail spending for the first time, and the trend is set to continue. As we move away from brick and mortar shops and increasingly switch to digitally browsing stores, we are faced with a pressing need for solid cybersecurity tools and protocols.

All too often users think of cybersecurity as the online retailer’s responsibility, which it is, but individual users and shoppers also need to strengthen their devices’ and data security.

With that in mind, here are five simple security tips for online shoppers to ensure you make safe online transactions in 2021.

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Use HTTPS Everywhere

Use HTTPS Everywhere

Millions of Americans believe in supporting local businesses and are prepared to spend a little bit more to do so. But when it comes to online stores, many smaller, independent retailers’ websites lack the newer, HTTPS security certificate.

If a site doesn’t have this essential layer of security and is working with the older HTTP protocol, you should not conduct any transactions, unless you can make it HTTPS. The browser extension HTTPS Everywhere does as its name suggests — ensures that all sites are covered by HTTPS protection. You can shop with smaller businesses safe in the knowledge your information is secure.

Get a Quality VPN Subscription

Get a Quality VPN Subscription

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is one of the best ways to keep your financial information safe while you shop. Encrypt your network with a VPN download and not only is your data and traffic hidden from would-be threat actors, but you can also use your subscription to unlock deals.

Prices displayed online are often specific to certain locations. With your VPN on, you can spoof your IP address and get the same deal locals can access. Just switch your VPN on and choose a server in the location of your choice.

Don’t Let Stores Retain Your Credit Card Information

If you shop with a certain retailer often, it’s certainly convenient to create an account and save your credit card information for faster checkouts. But this does leave you open to data theft; if a store experiences a data leak, your financial credentials could be compromised.

Try to manually enter your credit card information each time and don’t allow stores to retain your details.

Use Strong Passwords

Use Strong Passwords

If you do choose to create accounts with your favorite stores, make sure you create strong passwords. In 2020, some of the most common passwords included “password123” and “qwerty123”, codes that are remarkably easy to break. Instead, use a minimum of 12 characters, a mix of upper and lower-case letters, and numerals.

Get a Password Manager

A good password manager is worth its weight in gold. It will help you create strong passwords and store them securely in your personal “vault.” Password managers are browser extensions that you can sign in and out of, they will remember your log in details and autofill these when prompted. You will only need to remember one master password or passcode. LastPass is a good example, and as an added bonus, it’s completely free of charge.

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