It’s another lazy Sunday, and you’re shopping online from a safe social distance—filling your Amazon cart with household items, groceries, and maybe a few gadgets. This year you’ve gotten into the habit of stocking up virtually and limiting your in-person shopping trips to whenever necessary.
Online shopping is the new normal, but it’s not necessarily safe—unless, of course, you already have cyber security software like MalwareBytes installed on your PC.
But if your computer is unprotected, you’re exposing yourself to fraud each and every time you make an online transaction, according to Experian. And during a worldwide pandemic or even the holiday season, you’re especially vulnerable to hackers, phishers, and identity thieves.
Since the beginning of the year, Americans have made 91,808 COVID-19-related reports to the Federal Trade Commission—34,000 of which were related to online shopping alone. Covid-related fraud has already robbed a cumulative $16 million from unsuspecting Americans, says the FTC’s most up-to-date report.
That’s because so many people are shopping online at once and distracted from their normal routines, says cyber security expert and CyberScout founder Adam Levin. “People are trying to juggle working from home, homeschooling, applying for unemployment” in addition to all that late-night shopping, he tells Yahoo Life. “You have enormous vulnerability. Scammers now know that they can use all of these different avenues.”
But here’s the thing: you can and should shop safely online without fear of getting your identity or any of your sensitive information stolen. It’s actually pretty easy to protect yourself, says Levin. It’s all about investing in the right cyber security tools. Here are six essential tools for anyone who shops online.