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updated 3/14/2011 2:14:10 PM ET 2011-03-14T18:14:10

Microsoft is urging consumers who plan on shopping online this holiday season to follow some very simple – but often overlooked – advice to help avoid the traps set by cybercriminals.

Microsoft’s “Cyber Monday Security Shopping Tips” list recommends people install antivirus and antispyware software on home computers and "create strong passwords for all online accounts, particularly those used for banking or shopping." Microsoft also instructs consumers to make sure the sites they are using are protected with Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption.

Additional tips on Microsoft's list include: "Never make online financial transactions on a public or shared computer," and "Consider the reputation of the company or website from which you buy.”

These are all important security tips and are crucial to heed, especially given the fact that consumers in the United States are projected to spend $384 million this holiday season, according to a Yahoo news report.

At the bottom of its Cyber Monday list, Microsoft makes two common-sense recommendations that may help stop  cyberthieves in their tracks and keep consumers safe and secure.

The first tip reads: "Give only enough information to make the purchase – be wary if a merchant asks for additional information like bank account information, Social Security number, etc."

During the holiday shopping season, hackers often set up payment websites that look legitimate, but actually are fraudulent. Any information entered in these fake sites can become intercepted bye the criminal. These sites are dangerous because shoppers are susceptible, particularly during the holidays, to sites that promise great deals.

The last tip on Microsoft’s list is very low-tech, but very important.

It reads: "Print or save a copy of your order, including the confirmation number or e-mail message, as your receipt."

With brick-and-mortar shopping increasingly giving way to online purchases, Microsoft security experts say it's still necessary to be armed with physical proof of a transaction.

 


 

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