December 12, 2012 | Press Releases

ESET Offers Seven Golden Rules for Safe Holiday Shopping

The 2012 holiday shopping season is here and digital devices are sure to play a major role in the holiday shopping process. That is why ESET research with its global resources has put together seven tips on how to stay safe while shopping online. “Digital shopping is everywhere - on the home desktop or office computer, to in-store price checking on the smartphone. And of course, online holiday shopping is available 24/7, all the way to end-of-year clearances and New Year Sales,” says ESET Security Evangelist Stephen Cobb. Don’t let unwanted “surprises in”, instead have a safe and protected Christmas with these tips:


1. Tune your shopping machine: Like the tune-up your car gets before a long drive to deliver holiday gifts to relatives, your laptop may need attention before going online for some power shopping. Give it improved protection, by updating and patching your browser, operating system, and anti-malware suite.

2. Stick with familiar faces: Buy from websites that have established a reputation for doing what they say, providing accurate descriptions of merchandise, and delivering it in good shape and on time. When you’re getting down to the wire with shipping deadlines, the last thing you need is friends and relatives getting the wrong gifts, which could be worse than no gifts at all.

3. Be wary of amazing deals: If a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is, particularly if it’s an amazing offer on one of the hottest products of the season. Such deals can be very tempting, but it really is safer to avoid following links that offer goods, services, or gift cards at impossibly cheap prices, they are just too risky. Not all discount vendors are scammers, but ask yourself if the promised savings are worth the gamble (or Google the offer and/or vendor to see what others are saying).  Also watch out for urgent deals that arrive in unsolicited email or purport to be from friends on social networking sites.

4. Insist on secure transactions: When you are in the ordering process on a website, check to make sure it is using SSL, the standard in secure transactions that shows up in several ways. You should be able to see https in front of the web address instead of http. There may also be a lock or key symbol in the browser window as well. Using SSL encrypts the exchange of information, such as your credit card, so eavesdroppers cannot read it.  If you need to do any shopping over Wi-Fi, at home or at a hotspot, make sure it is secure (look for the lock symbol in the Wi-Fi connection dialog).

5.  Use credit instead of debit card: If you get scammed and try to get your money back you may have better luck with credit card transactions versus debit cards. Credit cards can put an extra layer of protection in between you and the criminals. When New Year lull sets in, there’s a tendency to avoid looking at the credit card statements arriving by mail (or email). Maybe you're hoping you didn’t spend as much as you think you may have. But if you got scammed, that statement may be the first sign.

6.  Question info requests and don't expect money for answering simple questions: Some malware is able to add questions to forms you use online, so if a shopping website is asking for too much information relative to your purchase, abandon the transaction and run an anti-malware scan right away. Furthermore, don’t expect money for answering questions: when a window pops up promising you cash or gift cards just for answering a simple survey like “Do you use the Internet?” close it and move on.

7. Lock up your devices: Password-protect your laptop, tablet, and smartphone so that, if lost or stolen, your data will be harder for strangers to access. Each of these devices should have a settings menu from which the security options should be readily accessible. Choose a password or code that is easy for you to remember but hard for other people to guess. And of course, back up your data.


To find out more, download ESET’s Guide to Safer Cyber-Shopping 2012 - 12 Tips for Happier Holidays prepared for you by ESET expert and research community.