Monday, September 26, 2011

Don't Get Spooked By Online Halloween Shopping

According to a report released by the National Retail Federation, not even the ghosts of recession's past can scare away Halloween's buying brilliance. After taking a dip in 2009, 2010 saw a return to full-fledged spooky spending, with shoppers plunking down $1.8 billion on candy, $1.6 billion on decorations and another $1.8 billion on costumes, both for their children and themselves. While Halloween is fast becoming a holiday favorite, online shopping for your favorite scary gags without identity protection could leave you in very real terror.

Busy online shopping days like Cyber Monday (the newly-minted web-based answer to America's busiest shopping day, Black Friday) attract online scammers, hackers and snoops looking to catch your credit card number or other online information over non-encrypted wi-fi networks. If you are buying candy, costumes or decorations on a non-protected network without the protection of a VPN account, you may be broadcasting your personal shopping info to every prying eye within a one-block radius.

Just like your favorite Halloween mask, VPN services hide your IP address and other pertinent details so you can browse in private. Behind this mask, all your web information is transmitted through a remote server so that it isn't open to the average person looking in, no matter what security is available on your network.

While most online shopping portals and e-commerce sites are encrypted for safe shopping, some can be easily manipulated. And with many scammers using phony e-mails to steal personal information, busy shoppers getting e-mails from Halloween retailers are at increased risk for identity theft and hacking. But with dummy e-mail addresses and other security measures, VPN customers are better protected, behind a scary mask of security.

Don't get spooked by online Halloween shopping this year. Just get a better mask and scare the snoopers right back.