SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — A few wrong computer clicks could land you in trouble this holiday shopping season.

Jeff Barto of Symantec says on-line shoppers can easily put themselves and their computers at risk unless they take precautions and avoid five common mistakes that could compromise their security.   Those mistakes:

Don’t shop on-line in a public place with Wi-Fi.     “If someone can find a way to compromise that connection, they can see what you’re doing – and everyone around you,”  Barto explained.     The safest way to shop online is from a home or work computer with a secured internet connection.   If you do have to shop on the go,  turn off your wi-fi and use your cell phone’s data network,  Barto advises.  “They need to encrypt all the voice connections,  therefore they encrypt all the data connections, too.”

Using an old version of your browser.   The browser is the icon you click on to use the internet,  Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari are but a few examples.  Most update automatically.  To check if you’re using the most current version,  go to www.whatbrowser.org

Clicking on pop-ups or searching the word  “cheap.”  There’s a good chance they could steer you to a site without proper security protocols.

Forgetting to look for the https before a web address.    Barto says the “s” stands for secure and indicates the webpage is encrypted.   While it may not appear on every page of a retailers website,  it should definitely appear on the page where you enter your personal and payment information.

Using weak passwords.  “It’s easy  (for a crook)  to learn your spouse’s name or your pet’s name,”  Barto says.  He advises using a strong password with a combination of least ten letters, numbers and symbols.   He also advises changing it every 90 days and using a different password on each site.

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