Protecting yourself on Cyber Monday

HOUSTON When it comes to cyber crime you can take some very simple steps to protect yourself. A little knowledge goes a long way.

Ready, set, shop for Cyber Monday! It's a day when websites offer deep discounts and free shipping to those buying online. But if you are not careful your computer could end up at a repair shop infected with a virus that not only slows your machine down, but searches for the key to your financial kingdom.

Alex Diaz of Top Tech said, "They want to get your banking information, your billing address, your passwords."

Diaz says he sees a spike in virus plagued computers this time of year. He adds if consumers know what to look for in a website, fewer machines would get infected.

"If it says https at the beginning of the address, that means it is a secure server," Diaz explained. "It means it is safe."

That "s", following http means the site is now encrypted and your information is secure. Also before buying anything online, make sure the site has several icons, including one for Verisign, an independent company that makes sure online retailers are safe with your financial information.

But there's one mistake far too many computer users make -- using the same password over and over.

Diaz said, "If you have one password for all these things, if a person gets a hold of that password, they can access your whole life."

Also, be sure you are not signing up for unwanted merchandise. Some sites contain offers that require you to say no, so be sure to read each screen page fully.

Deana Turner with the Houston Better Business Bureau said, "To make sure you are not signing up for a monthly distribution of this product and you'll be charged monthly."

Before you even begin your shopping experience, make sure your security software is up to date. You can go to Microsoft's website to see if any patches are available, often those free patches are designed to target the latest viruses.

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