Learn how a professional dealing with cybersecurity on a daily basis keeps his e-shopping safe.

Like most of you, the continuing pandemic has affected my online buying habits in more ways than one.

I still enjoy physical retail shopping, especially the experience of seeing so new products and testing a variety of gadgets.

But of course, health comes first, so I have adapted and now do my shopping once a month, and I harness the perks of online shops by stacking up discounts per month. It does come with risks, though.  For instance, since the beginning of 2021, Kaspersky has foiled 708 incidents across six countries in SEA, 50% of the total number of mobile bankers blocked in 2020 which was 1,408.

We also monitored a 60% uptick in the number of attacks using malicious mobile bankers detected and blocked in the region. I have also seen these risks myself. Just this year, I was in a hawker center buying lunch when I received a text message with a link to track a parcel. A few days prior, I had ordered a makeshift table for my work-from-home setup so I was indeed expecting a delivery.

In short, I clicked, and then boom. It was a phishing link. Thankfully, my phone’s security software promptly kicked in and blocked the threat. From this I learned that it is easy to say “do not click on anything”, but add in the contexts of the setting my mind was occupied with another activity (buying lunch), in a noisy environment (food center), and I was expecting a parcel—and you will know that in real world, “not clicking on anything” is easier said than done.

Aside from the importance of having a safety net—a security solution that can catch your accidental slips—it is also essential to revisit the card that you are using for online shopping as it will shape the possible losses a malicious link can inflict on your wallet.

Let us see how your safe e-shopping card should look like.

  • It is a credit card
    A credit card is not necessarily more secure than a debit card. However, disputes are easier to settle if a malicious transaction involves a credit card.

    Banks have insurance schemes and grace periods that allow you to alert them should you detect a suspicious transaction, so be sure to keep an eye on your card’s balance and recent transactions list, and turn on transaction notifications. Disputed transactions need not be paid until the bank’s investigations are complete.

    With a debit card, money is pulled directly from your bank account. Meaning, it is your own money you are losing. And getting it back usually takes longer as compared with a credit card dispute.
  • It has a minimal spending limit
    I am a believer of the additional security layer provided by a separate card which is meant only for spending online. In case it is compromised, you can easily cut the card without affecting your main bank accounts. Just be sure that if you see anything suspicious, contact your bank immediately and try to cancel the transaction—the faster you do it, the better.

    The same principle applies to having a dedicated e-mail address for your online spending needs, which can severely limit the amount of spam messages you receive and significantly reduce the risk of opening potentially malicious e-mails disguised as sales promotions.

    It is also best to use a credit card with low limit, or you may also set the limit lower according to your spending pattern.
  • It is kept secret and tightly secured
    Though life will be easier if your card details are saved across all the e-commerce platforms you use, data breaches happening everyday should be enough to warn us about keeping our financial data more securely.

    The more data you share and save online, the higher the risk you are putting yourself and your finances at.

And like the lesson I have learned myself, use security solution with protection from phishing and online fraud!