Staying Secure: Holiday Cybersecurity

Nov 12 2018
POSTED IN Best Practices

It’s important that shoppers take the right steps in protecting themselves while online as consumers are beginning to do most of their shopping via the internet. With this being said, during the holiday season, many suggest for shoppers to pay extra attention to their online activity as there could be more scams or cybersecurity threats during this time of the year. So whether you’re just beginning to add items to your shopping cart or you are about to add your credit card information, be sure to review these holiday cybersecurity tips so your holidays can truly be filled with joy.


Why You Should Pay Attention To Your Holiday Cybersecurity


It’s always important to pay attention to your cybersecurity, but more so during the holidays as cybercriminals and scammers may use the holiday to their advantage. Specifically by tricking consumers in providing them with their personal information through holiday scams. Choosing to shop online with no regard to your cybersecurity leaves you at risk for unintentionally providing cybercriminals with your personal information, or means to steal funds.


Steps To Take To Stay Safe Online This Holiday


Be On The Lookout For Scams

While this may seem obvious, it’s always important to remind consumers that they need to be on the lookout for scams and cybercriminals. This can’t be stressed enough as many fall victim to scams when they least expect it as cybercriminals are always changing their tactics. Generally, it’s suggested to be wary about opening emails from unknown sources, especially if there are attachments or hyperlinks. Additionally, only click or download the attachment or hyperlink when you trust the sender. Freely clicking and downloading can leave you at risk for unknowingly transferring a file that could contain malware or a virus, costing you not only time and energy to resolve the problem, but hundreds of dollars depending on the threat.


It should as well be noted that this tip is not only limited to emails or phone calls, but social media messages and text messages. As previously mentioned, cybercriminals are changing the way they target consumers for their information and have recently found it rewarding to use consumers phones and social media to do so. One example is how cybercriminals are sending out fake messages to ‘update’ the customer about the status of their shipment, prompting them to either click on a tracking link that infects their device, or call a number so they can ask you for personal information over the phone.


Password Management

This has probably been said a thousand times, but here’s another reminder; always create hard to guess passwords and periodically update them. It should be noted that the same password should not be used for multiple accounts. The reason being, if a cybercriminal gains access to one account, they can easily gain access to other accounts linked to that username or email if the same, or a similar password is used. Putting the time into making a password unique can help prevent criminals from gaining access to your accounts, as well limit how much information they can steal.


When creating a password, ensure it’s original, uses both lowercase and uppercase letters, as well as numbers and symbols. It’s also suggested to use the first letter of a hard to guess phrase. For example, “It’s too hot in Florida to vacation!”, would become “I2hiF2V!”. Making it a truly difficult password to guess.


Shop With Websites You Trust

When you’re shopping online this holiday season, you’re likely hoping to get the best deal on brand name, expensive electronics or designer clothing. But be wary, as if it’s too good to be true, it likely is. Cybercriminals have created fake, or knockoff websites that look similar to the real ones, with highly discounted items in an attempt to gather a shoppers personal information. When determining the legitimacy of the website, look for a corporate address or where they are located, as well whether their shopping-cart experience is an HTTPS browser. If there is no sign of a legitimate-sounding corporate address, or no “HTTPS” within the browser, it is a sign that the site may not be safe.


Check Your Online Activity

One last piece of advice you should take over the holiday season when protecting yourself online is to monitor your credit card activity. Taking the time to check what purchases are made, how much each purchase is for, and when they were made can help you determine quickly, whether there is any suspicious activity on your credit card. Allowing you to immediately contact your bank or credit card provider to ask them to cancel the card and look into the activity.

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