Shopping online can be one tiresome activity when you fall under the arms of one malicious hacker hidden behind a computer desk, sniffing around your computer remotely to acquire your details. Malicious hackers will always be around doing some sniffing to see where that great opportunity kicks in in form of a loophole. Banks have fallen under the arms of these hackers and other malicious people who aren’t hackers in any form. Who are we, to escape from their ruthless form of hunting? Stories have been told and

we have also had them on how people have been conned or had their personal data stolen and used maliciously?

Just recently we heard cases of how people were conned by third party personals acting like a booking site for hotel rooms. This happened to a lady who had saved all her hard-earned money the whole year in order to take her family out on holiday during the festive season. Like any other person who would love to embrace technology as it comes, she went to do her hotel shopping online to see available hotel rooms as well as their prices. Unfortunately, all known sites were showing that her preferred hotel was all booked. With hope, she decided to search around to see whether there is any other site that will show the hotel as not fully booked. Luckily for her, she landed upon one crafted site that apparently showed the hotel having available rooms.

As a parent, the joy will be overwhelming seeing that finally your family will be able to enjoy comfort during the holiday. Innocently, she went on to book, and to ensure that she does not notice that the site was a malicious site, the site owners, decided to also have a conversation with her on how to go about paying the deposit and assuring that they take care of all the other activities for her whereby, all she will have to do next is drive to the destination and enjoy the comfort and pay the rest of the amount when at the hotel. I mean, who would think that this isn’t a genuine website?

Furthermore, the whole booking process has been catered for? Innocently, on the appointed day, on arriving at her hotel destination prepared to rock the holiday season, she was welcomed by some unfortunate news. The hotel was fully booked the whole holiday period and her family’s name was not on the booking list. That is a hard nut to crack. Imagining how well you had prepared for the holiday, done all that was required to the extent of paying the deposit amount. Trying to contact the people who were doing the booking for her, their phones were switched off. That is when she came to the realization that she had been conned.

Sorrow is the only thing left to engrave their faces. Nobody would want to visualize themselves in such a situation leave alone having it happen to them in the actual world. Well, she could be one among many others who have had to undergo such stressful moments online either through shopping for household items, booking hotels and even buying cars from fraudsters.

We are left wondering what is the best option to use considering shopping online is convenient as all you do is login to a website purchase the item you are purchasing and wait for the delivery. Alternatively select a hotel, do the booking online and pay the required amount of money and let all other transactions be handled by the personnel running the website.

But, what happens when you vividly know that there are malicious people online waiting to prey on your data and take advantage of your naivety when it comes to technological loopholes? The following are easy steps to follow through when shopping online:


1. Use a Known and Trusted Brand

We all know the trusted brands out there the likes of Amazon, Ali express, E-bay, Alibaba just to name but a few. Looking at these sites, we all have heard about them and they are all international brands. Fantastic right? But what happens to small enterprises uprising locally? We hardly have heard so much about them. Probably, we only have heard the name mentioned occasionally in conversations.

How do we ensure they are trusted by other people? Reviews always come in handy. At all times, make sure to have a look at the reviews shared by other customers concerning that online shop. Look for a shop that is transparent, by this, I am referring to a website where on the social platforms, the owners engage with their customers, where they do not shy away from portraying themselves in front of the camera for their customers to see them and interact with them. The beauty of this is that, we get assurance that the owner is one who is ready to take the world hands on and let the users see who they are. Meaning that they are open with the business they run online. There are several online shopping platforms where the owners are transparent. One of them being E-pepea where the owner is ever engaging with her customers on social platforms.


2. Use a browser that has security Features

Today, majority of the browsers (Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Opera Mini, Safari) have security features enabled. This is to protect users and their data from being tapped by malicious sites. Always ensure that your security feature is on for both your laptops and mobile phones. This can be done from the settings area of the browser then under the security section.

3. Look for That Padlock Which padlock, you may ask. At the search bar where the website’s name is indicated next to the address, you will always see a padlock symbol at the beginning. Let’s say the website is (, you should be able to see a padlock. This signifies that the website is a trusted and protected one. Meaning that it has a Secure Socket Layer (SSL). This ensures privacy is maintained on the shopping platform more so if you will pay online. Some websites have third party payment partners, so ensure they are safe to use.


4. Use Strong Passwords

Passwords are the most common form of way for any malicious person to get easy access to your data. It gives them joy when they land upon an easy to crack password. How do we ensure our passwords are strong? Always make use of both Uppercase (capital letters) and lowercase letters with a mixture of both numbers and symbols. This ensures that it is harder for anyone to get hold of your details. Ensure that your password is about 6-8 characters long. The next question could then be, how will I remember all those numbers and symbols? The trick is to use numbers that are only known to you and use a letter that signifies maybe your daughter’s last name, parents last name or middle name and use a symbol that you can easily identify with. This reduces chances of forgetting your password and enforces security.

5. Use Antivirus Software’s for All Devices As technology advances, malicious people step up their game to. With new technologies being developed, most companies are ensuring they create a system to ensure the security of their users. This does not seem to limit malicious hackers. They figured away to entice us with beautiful and useful applications that will help solve a problem we maybe facing on our laptops or phones. Sure, the recommended application will work but behind it runs a feature that can easily tap all your data. Some come with keyloggers that store your passwords as you type them in on any site. The passwords are sent remotely and the next thing you discover is your account number or M-pesa pin was used to do shopping for items that you had not purchased. This is where we end up blaming online shops but ideally that is our responsibility to enforce antivirus’ on all of our devices.

6. Do not Use Public Wi-Fi As much as it might be very enticing to get into a restaurant and find free Wi-Fi as we would term it. We get overjoyed as we are sure we won’t use any bit of our bundles not to mention how fast they get depleted. The same “free” Wi-Fi comes at a great cost. That is the sweet jackpot for any online criminal. They easily tap onto your laptop and phones within a matter of seconds, such that when you decide to do your shopping while enjoying that cup of coffee, they are there reading all your data from your credit cards and m-pesa pin. Sure, you will be glad you have shopped for your son or daughter that outfit that they will rock during that family gathering but in no time, your account balance will be zero, without you realizing it. Therefore, the next time you sit in a restaurant enjoying that cup of coffee from your coffee shop or enjoying that hot lunch with a friend and bragging how easy it is to shop online, make sure you are using secured Wi-Fi connection. You never know the open Wi-Fi connection could be one that has been setup by the malicious eye waiting to prey on his meal (your account data).

Better still, do it from the comfort of your home or in the office where you have secured internet connections. We can all sympathize with our lady who had to have such an encounter with the conmen. But it is upon us to learn from it and ensure we do not land into their hands. With this, we are to have best experiences as we are shopping at our comfort and waiting for the doorbell to ring once the item is delivered.

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Last modified on February 20 2018

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