3 Shopping Tips to Protect Yourself from the Next Major Retail Data Breach
Major retailers are having a rough time of it these days concerning the security of their customer’s financial information. Last December, Target was hit with malware that compromised 40 million customer credit and debit card accounts, and recently, Home Depot was hit with the same malware. What’s a connoisseur of mass-produced boxed goods to do?
It turns out that hacks like these aren’t limited to major box stores. Any business that wheels and deals with credit and debit cards is at risk of computer viruses, like the Target and Home Depot malware. As a consumer, you entrust your financial information to dozens of retailers of all shapes and sizes. You can’t afford to have your personal or your company’s financial information compromised because you unknowingly picked the wrong retailer to buy something from.
Checking out at a cash register shouldn’t be a security crap-shoot when you swipe your credit card. Here are three shopping tips to help you minimize the risk of having your financial information compromised.
3 Tips to Avoid a Data Breach
Use Preloaded Cards
By shopping with a prepaid credit card or gift card, you will be keeping your personal financial information out of the system. If the gift card information is compromised, then, in a worst-case scenario, only the money loaded on the card would be lost. In such an event, you may be able to have the gift card company reimburse you for the loss. As a bonus, the theft of a gift card won’t penalize your credit score like the theft of your personal credit card would, and you can also use prepaid cards to make online purchases.
Don’t Do Debit
Security experts recommend keeping debit purchases to a minimum. Debit cards work by drawing money directly from your bank account, which spells bad news for your bank balance if your debit card number is stolen. Credit cards are better suited for resolving the mess of a card theft because you can report the fraudulent charges to your credit card company and not be charged for them. WIRED magazine suggests that you only use your debit cards at secure ATMs, and nothing more, as you have a lot more to lose with a debit card than with a credit card.
Use Best Security Practices for Online Purchases
Before you go on your next online shopping spree, be sure to know about what traps hackers like to use in order to steal a user’s financial information. Phishing emails that pretend to represent a well-known company are a favorite trap used by hackers. In a phishing email, they will link a bogus website that’s designed to trick you into making a purchase. Be on the lookout for such websites and be sure to only visit official company websites.
Checking the URL of the website is an easy way to clue you into this trap. Be sure to look at the website’s security certificate before making a purchase. Do this by looking for a padlock icon to the left of the URL. A closed padlock means that the website is encrypted and the information sent with the form should be safe.
Preventing such a breach with your own business means taking every security precaution and preventive measure that you can, including the implementation of network monitoring from Protek, and having an enterprise-level firewall with our Unified Threat Management solution. Call us today at 801.290.0388 to prevent your business from making headlines as the next Target or Home Depot.
Eric is the owner and CEO of Protek Support and is a CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional). He graduated from Utah State University with a Bachelors of Science degree in Business with an emphasis in Information Technology (IT). He is an IT Services expert in a variety of technology related fields. Some of these fields include document management software/hardware, enterprise level networking and VoIP phone systems, as well as large scale software implementation projects and the setup of small business networks.