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OIT encourages online security

Liz O'Donnell | Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Students can best protect themselves while shopping online by paying attention to who they are purchasing from, said David Seidl, Information Security Program Manager for Notre Dame’s Office of Information Technology (OIT).

As part of National Cyber Security Awareness Month, OIT is working to inform students of the dangers that can come from breaches in cyber security, including online shopping.

Seidl said the two biggest areas where online shoppers neglect to protect themselves are in checking the credibility of the site they purchase from and the form of payment they use to buy their merchandise.

“People will go to one website and get linked over to some fly-by-night site that’s not something like an Amazon,” he said.

In order to prevent being scammed, Seidl said students can visit resellerratings.com, a website with ratings on different online retailers.

“Resellerrattings.com generally gives you a star-based rating scheme. If you see it has 500 and has been in business for 10 years, then the website is probably okay,” he said.

Another general rule of thumb to keep in mind is to think about the type of deal the website is offering.

“One of the giveaways is that if something is too good to be true, it probably isn’t [true],” Seidl said.

Another area where online shoppers run into problems is in the way they chose to pay for their purchases.

Seidl said the best way to pay for merchandise purchased online is with a one-time use credit card number.

“The basic concept is that you are able to go to a credit card companies website and click on a function that can generate a one-time use number,” he said. “The number is no longer valid after the purchase.”

As opposed to giving a credit card number, where there is the possibility for someone to steal it and use it until the card expires, a one-time use number will be invalid after the transaction is completed, Seidl said.

If, however, an online purchaser must choose between using a credit card or a debit card, Seidl said to opt for the credit card.

Aside from potentially giving a website complete access to one’s checking account, there are also more safeguards put into place for credit card theft.

“Credit cards have more protections by law so potential issues for you are much smaller,” he said.

In addition to offering advice about online shopping, OIT is also hosting a number of speakers Tuesday at the Notre Dame Conference Center in McKenna Hall to advise on different topics related to cyber security.

The first portion of the day features two speakers, who will address topics aimed at technologically oriented students and professionals.

During the afternoon, events will be geared toward a wider audience, with speakers focusing on securing one’s mobile phone and tips for parents to protect their students online. A complete listing of the day’s events can be found on OIT’s website.