Using a VPN account when shopping Online
The number of people who shop online is steadily increasing, but comparatively few of these individuals are using a VPN account on their home network. The question we want to address in this article is whether or not a VPN can increase the security of the sensitive information you share with online retailers. It’s an important issue that is sure to affect you at some point.
Online Shopping Stats
Amazon, Wal-Mart, Ebay, Office Depot—the list of online retailers is growing each day. Just about every major retailer now offers customers the ability to purchase items online. A recent survey conducted during the 2013 holiday season revealed that 47% of US shoppers did a portion of their holiday shopping online. The reasons given were avoiding the hustle and bustle of physical stores and free shipping offered by many retailers.
Online shopping is a big business. According to the US Census Bureau, $67 Billion dollars were spent online in the third quarter of 2013, and increase of 3.6 percent over the previous quarter. Similar numbers can be observed in other countries such as the UK and Canada. Even smaller countries, like those in the Arab Region, are beginning to show significant increases in the number of online shoppers. Some of these purchases are for digital goods, such as MP3’s or ebooks, but many are for physical products shipped to the customer’s home.
The security of online shopping has always been a concern among retailers and customers alike, and for the most part buying products online is pretty safe owing to the practices of most retailers.
How Online Retailers Protect Your Data
Most online retailers like Amazon are very good at securing sensitive information such as your banking info, credit card numbers, and physical address. Websites that accept and process payments typically use the https protocol to encrypt and protect data transmissions. In addition, an account registration is required by most online retailers which involves the logging of your IP address for verification purposes. This is how online businesses screen for fraud. That’s why many times you will be prompted to enter a verification code or answer some security questions if you access the website with a different IP address, say from the local library or coffee shop.
These security measures are very effective, insofar as they protect the data stored on the retailer’s servers. Even so, the news is filled with stories of databases being hacked and the data of users compromised. On October 3, 2013, the software giant Adobe, makers of the Acrobat .pdf reader and Photoshop, was hacked and 150 million Adobe users were affected. These things can happen even to a prominent company like Adobe, and there isn’t a whole lot you can do about that. What you can do, however, is secure the backend of your online shopping data with a VPN.
Secure Your Machine With A VPN
The data which is often shared with online retailers—credit card numbers, banking account numbers, purchase receipts, email accounts, physical addresses—is usually also stored on your local machine. Think about it. You probably have a file or two right now for your Amazon purchases, bank statements, and so on. While it is the responsibility of the online retailer to protect your data stored on their servers, it is your responsibility to protect data on your own computer.
Whenever you use an unsecured connection, like public Wi-Fi, the data on your computer is potentially at risk. It can be accessed by someone who knows how to snoop other users on the public network. So, when you shop online using one of these unsecured connections, your purchase receipts and other info may be at risk. Granted, receipts don’t typically contain your credit card numbers but they can contain enough information to provide a doorway to more sensitive data. If you keep your bank account statements in an unencrypted file on your machine, these can also be compromised.
Using a VPN account from VPN-Accounts.com on your home network or whenever you are using public networks gives you an encrypted, secure connection which prohibits data thieves from seeing your data or IP address. It basically functions as an added level of protection that takes your personal security to a new level.
A Final Word about using a VPN account
We mentioned that online retailers use IP logging to prevent fraud, so you need to be aware that using a VPN to access your favorite shopping sites may require you to provide some additional authentication to prove your identity. In some cases, a scan of your credit card or ID may be required (most retailers will allow you to black out all but the last four digits of the credit card). You may be required to answer some security questions that you added when your account was created. These things might seem like a hassle, but they are a small price to pay for having the added protection of a VPN.
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