• How you can protect yourself when online shopping


    PITTSBURGH - Mt. Lebanon resident Jason Silver has already started looking for bargains this holiday season.

    "I've seen some great deals, even in advance of Cyber Monday," he told Channel 11.

    The chances of finding him in an actual store right now are “slim to none,” he said. “I'm more of an online shopper. I find it convenient.  And most of the items, be it small gifts for family and friends or bigger ticket items I might be looking for, I really navigate the web and find my gifts and purchases that way."

    But while you’re busy looking for deals, cyber criminals are busy trying to steal your personal information.

    A study found the rate of computer infections jumped nearly 40 percent in Pittsburgh last year for the three days surrounding Cyber Monday.

    "General Internet traffic is higher and the malware authors understand this," said Patrick Morganelli, the senior vice president of technology for the Enigma Software Group,  the makers of the SpyHunter anti-spyware program.

    He said it’s important to watch out for spam emails and links promising great deals.

    "They forge emails that look like they're coming from these companies and attempt to get users to click on the links to them, from which they can get infected with malware and malicious sites," he explained.

    Within seconds, cyber thieves can steal your personal information or access your contacts and important files.

    He also advises caution when clicking on social media.

    "A lot of times malware is spread through hacked accounts on services like Facebook, Yahoo Messenger, AOL Messenger," Morganelli explained.

    And if an email or offer seems suspicious or too good to be true, do what Silver does.

    "If it's from an address or from a retailer that I'm not familiar with I take the precautions and just send it to the trash," he said.

    Morganelli said it is important to keep your computer’s anti-malware and anti-spyware program protection up to date. 

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