Issue of October 8, 2017
Mt. Province

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Be wise online shoppers, cybersecurity expert says
by Jane B. Cadalig

Online shoppers should remember that while the Internet has made it easy for them to acquire goods and services, they must be wary of the risks and the consequences that come with it, an expert on cyber security said.

Department of Communication and Information Technology(DICT)  Asec. for Cybersecurity and Enabling Technology Allan Cabanlong said the responsibility of ensuring product excellence and protection of personal information lies mostly on the consumers who transact online.

He said while the government is setting up mechanisms to protect the public bogus online transactions and from identity theft, among other threats, the consumers are the ones who can best protect themselves from unscrupulous individuals.

“Cybersecurity must start from the people themselves. They have to remember that when they make online purchases, it is them who close the deal and provide the information being asked by the platform they are shopping from,” he said.

Cabanlong was in Baguio for the opening of the Consumer Welfare Month celebration in which he was among the speakers in a forum on “Consumer rights in the digital age,” spearheaded by the Department of Trade and Industry.

He said the DICT, being a newly created department, is focusing on increasing awareness on how the public can be protected from unscrupulous individuals who have resorted to the Internet to carry out illegal deeds.

Cabanlong said the technologies are just tools to improve the shopping experience of consumers, and work more is needed to enhance the ability of the public to be wise users of these technologies.

In online shopping, he said awareness and vigilance remain the protection of the public.

“To avoid becoming victims, customers should be careful with too good to be true deals. Before ordering a branded commodity for example, they have to make sure that the price is commensurate with the brand. If a branded product is offered at a very cheap price, the customer should think twice before ordering it,” he said. 

He added trust is the foremost driver for online consumers. “They have to make sure that they trust the platform they are buying from.”

Because of anonymity of online sellers, it is difficult to trace the identity of people selling their products or offering services. “It is really up to the shopper to determine if the platform they are transacting with is legitimate,” Cabanlong said.

If needed, he said the online shopper should contact the seller or look at their track records. “They should also read the comments, positive and negative, and decide if they want to pursue their purchase.”

“In this digital age, the Internet users are the ones who are responsible for themselves. Cybersecurity is a joint effort of everybody,” he said.

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