Tips to Shop Safely Online: Why Third-Party Scripts are Dangerous

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Most of us prefer shopping online nowadays to save ourselves from the hassle of going to shops. It is very convenient: you can quickly choose which goods you need with everything at your fingertips.

But do you know that online shopping is not always safe? And we do not mean buying a used iPhone and getting a rock instead. We refer to situations when your private data is put at risk. Or when scammers set up fake websites to tempt you.

Additionally, third-party scripts are a big issue, and they can do a lot without your knowledge. For one, third-party scripts can track behavior, sites visited, purchase history, IP address, location, demographics, and more. In other cases, malicious JavaScript scripts could aim to steal your data while you choose new goods online.

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What are Magecart attacks?

JavaScript card sniffing attacks are a threat if you tend to shop online frequently. Even the biggest providers are targets, meaning that your banking details could be compromised anywhere. The JavaScript card sniffing attacks aim to compromise the checkout process, during which attackers try to steal your payment data. But how does it work?

Magecart attacks refer to the process of loading malicious scripts on pages that would normally deal with checkout procedures. The secret and dangerous JavaScript code attempts to record the information clients provide.

The threat persists on many platforms, like Magento, Shopify, X-Cart, OpenCart, and others. When it comes to protection, the cloud-based online store systems were not eagerly sharing the protection they had. According to experts, the best defense came from Shopify. According to them, their platforms do not allow customizations for credit card collection and processing, like the addition of third-party JavaScript.

What are the Security Threats Faced by Online Users?

These are the main threats faced by customers while shopping online.

Third-party scripts

Most websites integrate many third-party scripts from a variety of vendors. However, these providers do not always understand the consequences of such additions. Unfortunately, it is possible that these JavaScript scripts will come laden with malware.

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Of course, it is nearly impossible for websites to operate without any third-party scripts. Nonetheless, providers need to know the dangers associated with using them. For instance, the website owners might not even know that the embedded scripts have been compromised. There might be many repercussions, but it might be that the client’s accounts will be put in danger.

Here are some of the things that malicious JavaScript code can help hackers achieve:

  • Performing CSRF, a cross-site request forgery that forces the user to perform actions they did not intend.
  • Modifying the website by adding content unapproved by the websites’ owners.
  • Redirecting users to fake websites.
  • Taking users’ cookies and getting access to their accounts.

Phishing

Hackers create fake emails and websites to cheat people. They set up their email address exactly like the original one so that when a customer sends an email, they think it’s going to the right source, but actually, it goes to hackers who then again use it for their benefit. For example, if you receive any spam email claiming to be from Amazon, don’t open it. It can be from an attacker looking for some victims to do scams.

According to news reports, delivery scams are also becoming more active. Essentially, criminals send messages or emails allegedly informing users about their parcels. The message could state that your parcel is on the way. In other cases, it might suggest that there is a problem with your package. In all cases, the messages will typically contain a link.

Once you click on it, you might be redirected to a fake website. Criminals might try to get your personal details, like credit card information. Thus, do net excited if Amazon has informed you that your parcel is on the way. It might actually be criminals trying to trick you.

What Can You Do to Shop Safely?

Shopping online is an art. After all, you need to be well-versed in finding the best deals and reliable providers. For instance, if you enter a website and believe it to be sketchy, you will likely exit it to find a more suitable option. One of the biggest red flags for an online store is to operate on HTTP. HTTP should already be gone. However, there are e-commerce sites that still have not been updated.

If the connection is not secure, you should supply your information. Do not fill any forms, and never give away your credit card information.

Shop from authentic website only

Before buying anything from an e-commerce website, ensure that you are on their actual website by checking the web address. Hackers generally create a fake website that looks exactly like the original one, so you can’t tell from its look whether you are on the actual website or not. For example, when you plan to buy a phone from any e-commerce site, don’t search for it on Google. Instead, go directly to their official site, and proceed with your purchase.

Disable JavaScript

What can publishers do to secure their websites? Well, it would be wise to limit the number of third-party scripts on their sites. If it is possible, removing all third-party JavaScript trackers is also a good solution. Sadly, it might not always be an option.

As a user, you have the option to disable JavaScript. Of course, this is a great solution that you should consider. However, please note that some websites might not work properly due to the lack of JavaScript scripts. You can block JavaScript on all popular browsers, like Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, and Safari.

Use A VPN

The benefits of a Virtual Private Network service go two ways. First, you get to stay safe on all websites you visit, even if they feature HTTP. When you use a VPN service, all the data you send and receive is encrypted, which protects your data from interception and modification.

Additionally, a VPN helps you change your IP address. So, in turn, you also modify the location online stores associate with you. If you tend to pay more for products just because of your location, a VPN is a great tool to overcome price discrimination based on country.

SSL certificates

Look for the encryption certificate of the website before proceeding with any transaction. SSL certificates provide encryption to sensitive data such as credit card details so that hackers cannot access them and use them for their benefit.

Check bank statements before and after payment

Always check bank statements to be on the safer side. If you notice a suspicious transaction, immediately contact your bank so that they can block that transaction or credit card if it is not yours. This will help you in saving your money from any future thefts.

Avoid using public Wi-Fi

Many cyber security experts recommend that you should use a secure Wi-Fi network to do shopping online. Public Wi-Fi doesn’t provide encryption, and it is risky to use them for shopping. Thus, if you want more security while doing your online shopping, avoid using public Wi-Fi.

Conclusion 

Hackers are everywhere, so you should always try to adopt secure ways to stay safe online. Shopping is one of the most vulnerable activities. After all, clients might be too excited about their new purchase to pay attention to whether that website uses HTTPS. Furthermore, online shopping has become so prominent that new providers pop up every day. In the sea of online shops, it is fairly easy to hit one that is not exactly reliable. Thus, choose shops that will have your back!

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