With the rise of online banking options and shopping sites that encourage the use of checking and credit card information, online transaction security is even more important. As the web grows and diversifies with options for online payments, a number of false sites pose a constant threat to all computer users. Exchanging sensitive information without the appropriate encryption technology or security measures can make a computer user or identity particularly vulnerable. Online transactions take place at record speed, oftentimes faster than a standard credit card transaction or check processing. Transmitting personal data over the Internet does pose various risks, and taking preventative action is a necessary part of ensuring online safety.

Online transactions can be monitored, recorded, and key logged by a variety of hackers and third parties without the knowledge or consent of the user. This information is transmitted across networks and opens up the door to a variety of risks that can fall into the hands of the wrong party. If passwords are stored on a user’s computer, they are especially vulnerable to security breaches. A computer security hole can open up the door to the password files, and hackers can extract and copy this information without the user’s knowledge.

Password files and information need to be protected as much as possible. This may involve frequent changing of the password, and using unidentifiable keyword combinations. Making sure passwords are a combination of numbers, capital and small letters, and special characters can prevent any manipulation simply by guessing the code, and taking the steps to change the password frequently may help with unauthorized access. Not sharing passwords with any other person is another important step; online transactions rely heavily on a user name and password. If just one other person has knowledge of this combination, it may lead to dangerous ramifications in the long-term. Create passwords that are easy to remember but hard for others to guess. Make the password at least 8 characters long. Consider using multi-factor authentication. Many services offer an option to verify your identity if someone logs on to your account from an unrecognized device. The typical method is to send a text or other type of message to a mobile device registered to you with a code you need to type in to verity it’s really you.

To be sure that you are protected you can use IPsec Virtual Private Network, which allows you to create a secure connection to another network over the Internet. VPNs essentially forward all your network traffic to the network, which is where the benefits – like accessing local network resources remotely and bypassing Internet censorship come along. VPNs are a fairly simple tool, but they can be used to do a wide variety of things: access a business or home network while travelling, access geo-blocked websites, downloading confidential files and others. Secure websites and pages will feature two important conditions that indicate they are using encryption technology and a Secure Socket Layer. This is indicated by “https” (letter ”s” after the http portion of the URL), and means that the server is a secure one.

Downloading from trusted sources can help to protect a user’s sensitive information, as this limits the potential risk of viruses, worms, and other dangerous threats that can lead to data mining and data loss. Making sure all websites that involve direct credit card information and checking account information exchange have a padlock symbol or icon will ensure that the site has been assigned the authority to accept secure and protected information. Make sure you also double-check the website certificate prior to entering your payment details. Using software that protects and encrypts sensitive information like user names and passwords, and highlights if a site is secure or not, may dramatically improve your online transaction security. Such software should:

Remove already known dangerous and suspicious applications.

Store your passwords in encrypted mode in a secured place.

Block known phishing web sites and warn about those that are suspicious.

Stay up to date with latest antivirus and computer updates.

Not allow the installation of third party software from untrusted sources.

If you want to learn more about online safety check out our list of common scams to look out for.

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