With the start of lockdown now over six months ago, certain behavioral and shopping trends have started to become clear. The extreme regulations necessary in Level 5 significantly contributed to an increased uptake in online shopping, and put e-commerce into the focal point as a viable way to buy every day goods.

Speaking in light of Cyber Security Awareness month OneDayOnly.co.za spokesperson, Matthew Leighton says that cyber safety is a big part of shopping online, but not nearly as scary or unknown as some may think.

“E-commerce is no doubt starting to mature in South Africa. Our retail sales grew by 100% during lockdown and we are seeing an uptake in first time users making it even more important for consumers to familiarize themselves with online safety. As soon as you start shopping online, you quickly realise how safe and easy it is.”

As more shoppers embrace the wonderful world of online retail, Leighton urges people to follow basic – but effective – steps to avoid falling victim to online fraud. “Don’t open strange emails and links and only transact on secure websites. If something looks too good to be true, and you haven’t heard of the site before, do some research. If Googling the site name doesn’t yield any results, try contact the online company directly. An excellent rule is not to proceed unless you feel 100% comfortable,” he says.

“Only ever type your card details into secure websites. Always use strong passwords for your online accounts and ensure the internet connection you are using is secure. The general rule of thumb here is to avoid using public Wi-Fi in coffee shops or public places,” he explains.

“With that said, online security is extremely tight. Most online companies make use of third-party payment systems, and these companies specialise in keeping your information very secure. Skimming a card is much much easier in real life, where you hand your card over to someone else. The beauty of online shopping is that you can’t do that.”

Leighton also suggests consumers explore using mobile apps for their online shopping in addition to web based purchases.

“Mobile apps are typically more secure because they are housed right on your device as opposed to web apps, which live on the internet and can make them a bit more vulnerable by being more exposed. It is also easier to use multi-factor authentication in your mobile application to secure the application. An app can have an embedded certificate, better than a browser for preventing man-in-the-middle attacks.”