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1001 Computer Words You Need to Know$
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Jerry Pournelle

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780195167757

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780195167757.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 27 October 2021

How to Shop Safely Online

How to Shop Safely Online

(p.143) How to Shop Safely Online
1001 Computer Words You Need to Know

Jerry Pournelle

Oxford University Press

Whether you’re a compulsive gadget freak, an eBay addict, or a restrained occasional buyer, the Internet is a shopper’s paradise—open 24/7, offering unlimited choices, and giving us the luxury of shopping—through sleet and snow or summer heat—from our own homes. But at no time have caveats been more important for emptors than now. Devious and ingenious scam artists are just waiting to pounce on anyone who doesn’t take appropriate precautions. A few sound practices can help assure that you get what you pay for, get it on time, and don’t lose your shirt in the bargain. 1. Use a secure browser—Believe it or not, you can’t take browsers for granted. Be sure that you have the latest version of yours, including the latest updates and security patches, and that you’ve set your browser to notify you when you are entering or leaving a secure site. Be sure as well that it complies, as major browsers do (e.g., Netscape and Internet Explorer), with common industry security standards, like SSL and SET technology (see 2 just below). 2. Check out your vendor—Try to use vendors you’re familiar with. Many well-known bricks-and-mortar stores are now “clicks-and-mortar” operations, with both physical stores and sites on the Internet. If you must buy from a place you don’t know, check the site’s security. A secure site will use VeriSign’s Secure Sockets Layer technology (SSL), displaying a locked padlock at the bottom of the screen, Secure Electronic Transaction technology (SET), which shows an unbroken key, or a VeriSign logo indicating that you are at a secure Site. These are not just decorative icons. They are intended to ensure that all personal information you submit to the site will be scrambled en route through the ether and decrypted only when it reaches the licensed merchant. However, this is just the first step. Particularly if you clicked on an ad or a URL sent to you in an e-mail, and therefore did not type the URL in the address bar yourself, you should verify the security certificate (see How to Protect yourself from Frauds, Scams, and Identity Theft, p. 130).

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