In just the first weekend of 2017 holiday shopping there was a 123% spike in malware infections. With weeks still to go until the holidays it's a safe bet that infection rates will stay high: Hackers love the holiday season just as much as you do.
It can be tough to feel safe online. Your computer could be compromised, someone could intercept sensitive data, or a data breach could spill your information despite everything you do to stay safe.
The more layers of anonymity and security you can put between you and the internet the better, and here's one more way to do that: Privacy.com.
The burner phone for your bank account
Putting your personal financial information out on the web is one of the riskiest things you can do, yet we do it all the time. The best possible solution would be to have a different card number for each site you visit and for each subscription you use. That's exactly what Privacy.com does.
When you first log in to Privacy.com, either on the web or via its Android or iOS app, and after connecting your bank account, you'll be prompted to create a preconfigured card for one of several services. Alternatively, you can create a card that's locked in to a particular merchant or a one-time burner card that expires after use.
SEE: Reducing the risks of BYOD in the enterprise (Free PDF) (TechRepublic)
If holiday gift buying is the plan for your Privacy.com cards, you can also toggle a "generic merchants" option that will make any transactions show up as your choice of Privacy.com, H&H Hardware, Smileys Corner Store, or the NSA Gift Shop.
How to set up a Privacy.com account
You don't even really need the related smartphone app to use Privacy.com—everything can be done right from the web if that's your choice. I'll be describing setup steps through the web interface for this article (there's little difference between it and the apps).
Once you create an account you'll be prompted to attach banking details, which is simple if you bank with a large institution.
I had to search for my small credit union, which showed up in Privacy.com's database yet didn't connect properly. If you find yourself in a similar position, don't contact your bank: Just send an email to Privacy.com's support team and they'll enable an option for you to link your account with just a routing and account number, which solved my problem.
SEE: Mobile device computing policy (Tech Pro Research)
Once you verify your account you can create cards to your heart's content, and all of them are easily tracked right on the main account page.
Any extra security is a good thing
You still need to give your bank account details to Privacy.com, but if you stick to using its service you might not need to ever give out your debit or credit card number again. It's a security compromise, but it's far better to make this small one than to give your number out to every website that has a product you want.
Head on over to Privacy.com to give the service a try. It might just stop a holiday shopping disaster before it starts.
- 6 tips for avoiding phishing, malware, scams, and hacks while holiday shopping online (TechRepublic)
- Don't let yourself be targeted by cybercriminals: Here are 6 tips for safe holiday shopping (TechRepublic)
- Gallery: 20 bad tech gifts to avoid giving during the 2017 holiday season (TechRepublic)
- 2017's best tech gifts for the holidays (TechRepublic)
- The etiquette rule book on holiday gifts for your boss (TechRepublic)
- Gift guide 2017: Wearables, STEM toys for kids, and top tech picks for teens and adults (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
Brandon Vigliarolo has nothing to disclose. He does not hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Brandon writes about apps and software for TechRepublic. He's an award-winning feature writer who previously worked as an IT professional and served as an MP in the US Army.