Security: 11 tips to protect your data while shopping

security 11 tips to protect your data while shopping

The shopping season is about to erupt in full swing beginning on Black Friday. Many retailers are even extending their Cyber Monday sales to be cyber week sales. This is the time when consumers should taking additional precautions to protect personal data on their devices. 2015 has been the year of the data breach, and it is now a common occurrence in today’s information security threat landscape.

A few years ago, one of the biggest retail store data breaches occurred on Black Friday. Hackers obtained customer names and credit/debit card numbers that included expiration dates, security codes, and PIN codes. Though it is impossible for a consumer to tell if a point-of-sale (POS) system has been compromised— there are precautions that a consumer can take to protect their digital devices and to minimize credit/debit card theft.

11 tips to protect your data while shopping:

  1. Backup your data — in the event that your smartphone becomes stolen or compromised, having a good solid backup, you are risking the loss of your data.
  2. Set a lock code or password: set auto-lock at 1 minute.
  3. Keep your smartphone operating system and apps up-to-date. Generally updates come with new features and security enhancements. Pay close attention to any alerts you receive from your wireless provider and when updates become available, download and apply them immediately.
  4. Be aware of what is going on around you. According to Robert Siciliano, shoulder surfing does not always involve someone looking over your shoulder. It can be done from far away using binoculars or even a small telescope. A savvy thief can also watch finger movements to pick up PIN numbers. If you choose to use a debit card. Shield the POS terminal from observation by placing your hand or wallet above your hand to prevent the possibility of shoulder surfing.
  5. Take advantage of bank/credit cards that use temporary account-generators.
  6. It is wisest to use a credit card instead of a debit card. You will not be held liable in the event that your credit/debit card is stolen.
  7. Protect your credit/debit cards with an RFID wallet or RFID-blocking card shields. This will protect your cards from skimming.
  8. If you have an EMV chip card, use it. The chip replaces the magnetic strip and creates a unique signature for each transaction. Not all merchants are set up yet for this technology yet.
  9. If you are using your Smartphone to make a payment, be sure that the app you are using is reputable, has high ratings, and only download the app from trusted stores.
  10. Do not connect your smartphone to public wireless networks while shopping and turn bluetooth off. Thieves can use both public Wi-Fi and bluetooth to connect to your device and access your data.
  11. Monitor bank statements and credit card accounts on a regular basis.

If the above tips sound like you are trading in convenience for additional hassles —an old fashioned alternative that many consumers are turning to this season, is cold, hard cash. According to the latest Bankrate Money Pulse survey, nearly 39 percent of Americans say they will use cash for all their holiday purchases.

Whether you are shopping at the mall or online this holiday season, if you take the necessary precautions to protect your credit/debit cards and personal information — you will not be providing the adversaries what they most want — your personal data.

More Information: Holiday Shopping Tips


This post was written as part of the Dell Insight Partners program, which provides news and analysis about the evolving world of tech. Dell sponsored this article, but the opinions are my own and don’t necessarily represent Dell’s positions or strategies.

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