When building custom applications, whether you are the progammer building it, or if you hire someone to build an application for you, make sure the code is SECURE. As a CONSUMER, if you are shopping at a web site, there’s some tips below that can help keep you safe, when shopping online.
SPI Dynamics, a Web application security company based in Atlanta, GA, is working hard to educate software developers about the importance of building more secure Web applications. These applications that SPI secures are the very same online banking and shopping sites that consumers use every day to make purchases and transactions. Unfortunately, these Web applications are a key target for malicious hackers and phishers. Caleb Sima, CTO and co-founder of SPI Dynamics, has created a list of useful tips for consumers to help protect themselves and feel more secure from identity theft attempts as they make their online purchases this holiday season:
1. Use credit cards wisely. Have one, dedicated credit card to use for online purchases only. Make sure this card has a low limit – about $2,000. This will help you to track and verify your purchases a lot easier on monthly statements. Don’t EVER use a debit card for online purchases. This could give phishers and hackers access to your entire checking and savings account!
2. Be aware of Web site quality. Take a good look at the quality of the Web site you are using to make sure it looks reputable. A good Web site won’t have errors in spelling, grammar, etc. Your odds of being scammed are pretty low if you are using a well-known Web site like Amazon.com or eBay. For lesser-known, smaller companies, make a phone call for your purchase versus conducting an online transaction.
3. Know what the “lock” at the bottom of a Web site means. The small lock in the bottom right hand corner of a Web page does not mean that your data is protected! All it means is that your data is being encrypted to the Web server that will hold your sensitive information. Once the information is received at the Web server, there is no guarantee that the database server itself is protected. The lock truly only protects you from 1% of the ways hackers can grab credit card information. The other 99% is where the data goes, which could or could not be protected.
4. Security is not the cure. No security measure can prevent fraud. Only education and being aware of the threats that exist today can make you less vulnerable.
5. Check your credit reports regularly. Make sure you obtain and review your credit report on a quarterly basis. Credit organizations such as Equifax will usually contact you if something peculiar is happening on your account, but you should take responsibility yourself by always double-checking your report. Many states by law require the three main credit reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – provide one free copy of your credit report a year.
6. Review your monthly statements. Always carefully review your monthly credit card statements when they arrive. If any suspicious activity has taken place, your statement will verify this and you should contact your credit card company immediately about the suspicious charge. If there has been illegal activity, be sure to contact the three main credit reporting agencies immediately to notify them as
well so you can begin filing a fraud complaint to protect your credit.
7. Keep your credit card receipts. If something odd does occur on your account, your credit card receipts will help back your argument to your credit card company. Also, not all credit card receipts have encrypted account numbers, which is an easy way for identity theft to occur.
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