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Panda Security: practical guide to make your online Christmas shopping more secure

December 2008 by Panda

More of us now look to the Internet to find that original Christmas present to give to friends or family. The Web is now like one big department store where you can find everything you want and often at the most competitive prices.

In Spain alone, online transactions during 2007 were worth 3,740 million euros, over 50 percent more than in 20061. For 2009, the Forrester consultancy forecasts worldwide growth of online transactions of 12.2 percent2. However, many of these purchases will be made from fraudulent websites. According to CyberSource, fraudulent transactions are growing at a rate of 20 percent per year, and in 2007 cyber-crooks benefited from these operations to the tune of 3,600 million dollars3.

To help prevent users fall victim to online fraud, PandaLabs, Panda Security’s malware detection laboratory, has drawn up a list of practical tips to bear in mind when shopping online. This guide explains the main threats and how to protect against them. You can download it from:

Among the most dangerous threats to users over the Christmas period are banker Trojans. These malicious codes are designed to steal confidential data such as banking passwords, account numbers, etc. and make this information available to criminals who can then steal money directly from users. This type of malware accounted for 20 percent of all new malware that appeared during 2008.

Phishing is another type of fraud that users should be on the lookout for. These attacks use emails that appear to come from banks etc. but really redirect users to spoof Web pages where they are prompted to enter their bank details.

Fake online stores represent another common threat, these too are normally designed to steal users’ bank details. They often offer products at incredibly low prices to attract potential victims.

Spoof greetings cards created to distribute malware, infected P2P downloads and fake online auction offers are just a few of the many other threats to consumers this Christmas.

To keep out of harm’s way, PandaLabs advises:

Keeping your computer free from threats
Before carrying out an online payment, make sure your computer is not infected by viruses, Trojans, etc., which could steal your credit card details or passwords. Make sure you have an antivirus installed that can detect all types of threats, and keep it up to date.

Only visit secure websites
If you are going to make an online payment, make sure the Web page is secure. Check that the address in the browser’s address bar starts with “https”. Also, a small closed padlock icon must be displayed in the status bar of the browser.

Before buying something from an online store, make sure the company is reliable. Do what you would do in real life: get the opinion of other customers. On the Internet, this is as simple as typing the name of the store in a search engine and checking the opinion of other buyers. If it is bad, don’t buy there.

Get a second opinion
Even if you have an antivirus, make sure your computer is genuinely clean by getting a second opinion. Visit Infected or Not and run a free scan of your computer with ActiveScan 2.0, capable of detecting even threats that have evaded detection from traditional antiviruses.

Trust your instinct
Beware of bargains, on the Internet as in real life. If something looks too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true. Follow your instinct and if something looks like a fraud, don’t buy it. Better to miss out on a ‘bargain’ than to lose your money.

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