When shopping online, most people do not think about whether their financial transactions are safe and secure.
We just assume that when we enter our card details – and our personal information – that the website has the necessary protections in place.
The same goes for online entertainment providers such as popular streaming services, mobile games and gambling sites.
They all require you to provide personal data and payment details in order to subscribe, purchase an upgrade or make a deposit.
While ecommerce sites go to great lengths to ensure personal information and financial transactions are properly protected, in reality they can still be subject to cyber-attacks and hacks.
This puts your data and money at risk should a hacker successfully break into the site.
Before looking at how hackers do this, and the ways you can better protect yourself when shopping online, let’s take a look at the steps ecommerce sites take to protect your info and your cash.
Modern technologies such as firewalls and encryptions really help online shopping, entertainment and gaming sites in their fight against cyber criminals and hackers.
For example, the best online casinos use Secure Sockets Layer and Transport Layer Security to secure and encrypt the information you send from your device to the site’s servers.
This is usually combined with a firewall. Think of firewalls as the bouncer at a nightclub – they look at the people (site visitors) coming to the club (the website) and decide who to let in or not.
These technologies are a website’s armour and go a long way to preventing hackers from breaking through the ring of steel they provide – but they are not enough to ensure sites are 100% secure.
That’s because hackers are cunning and devious and use other tricks to illegally gain access to websites, from sending “phishing emails” to using other methods of entry.
How hackers break into online shopping sites:
According to ethical hacker and cyber security expert, Peter Bassill – founder of Hedgehog Security – hackers are only successful at “digital attacks” around 5% of the time.
To do this, they need to find a small chink in the website’s armour and that is usually enough for them to get in – the good news of course is that most sites don’t have any chinks.
A far more successful method of entry is to create a phishing email – an official looking email sent to a company’s employees that requires them to provide certain information.
Hackers use this info to break into the ecommerce site’s back end and systems. In an interview with online casino comparison site, Find My UK Casino, Bassill had this to say about phishing emails.
“A simple phishing email with a well created file that runs some code when opened has gotten us access on more occasions that I would care to mention – around 60% of the time, in fact.
“With access to an employee or user’s system, it is simply time and patience before we have access to the Crown Jewels.
“This method of attack bypasses the vast majority of defences and we remain hidden on website networks for weeks on end despite the powerful technologies they have in place.”
What would happen if an ecommerce site was hacked:
While successful cyber security attacks on big ecommerce sites are rare, they do occasionally happen. But have you ever wondered what this would mean for your personal info and cash?
In most cases, hackers obtain user information and data and then hold it ransom to the ecommerce company – in short, they want to be paid to hand the data back.
Occasionally, hackers will also sell the information they steal to other organisations.
A single customer’s information may only be worth £1 but when they access hundreds of thousands of customer profiles in one hack, it’s easy to see how they can make big money.
How to keep your money safe when shopping online:
Of course, most ecommerce sites, mobile gaming apps, streaming services and online gambling sites deploy the best cyber security measures to ensure they mitigate the risk of an attack.
Hacks really are rare and so long as you shop, watch and play at reputable brands, your info and money are protected to the highest possible standards.
That said, there are additional steps you can take to better protect yourself. These are four top tips from Peter:
- Always use your own computer or mobile device when shopping, watching or playing online. You know your device and can trust it.
- Use the best anti-virus and anti-malware products you can afford. Trend and Symantec are good, as is Microsoft Defender.
- If you can, use a VPN. They don’t stop hacks but it does mean that someone sitting in a coffee shop with a fake wireless hotspot won’t capture your keystrokes.
- Always make sure your device is up to date. The easiest way to hack a device or system is by manipulating computers that are not up to date.
While no ecommerce site is 100% safe and secure, reputable companies do all they can to mitigate the risk of attacks and your data and money is very well protected.
For added peace of mind, follow Peter’s tips so you can shop, stream and play online with absolute confidence that your info and cash are safe and secure.