It’s that time of year for parties, family gatherings, and holiday shopping. Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone, but online shopping is in full swing, and while you are looking for the perfect gift, cybercriminals are looking for ways to scam you. To ensure you don’t become a victim, it is important to remain vigilant, aware, and practice good “cyber hygiene.” Here are a few easy steps you can take to help prevent yourself from becoming a cyber-crime victim:
Avoid Public WiFi
Although very convenient, public WiFi can be dangerous and is usually not secure. Using a public service can grant cybercriminals access to your personal and financial information. Never input your credit card information or log into banking or financial sites on public WiFi; always use your hotspot in place of public WiFi.
Ensure Websites Are Legitimate and Secure
Before entering your personal or financial information, make sure the site you are visiting is secure and can be trusted. Look for the “lock” symbol in front of the URL and/or “https://” in the URL address; these indicate the website uses encryption to protect your information. Before making a purchase, read reviews to see what others have to say about the merchant and look for customer service information.
Think Before You Click
Don’t click suspicious links or attachments in e-mail, social media, or unverified websites. Criminals take advantage of holiday “deals” and can send out information that looks like legitimate discounts or specials. Never open an e-mail from someone you do not know, are not expecting to receive, or from a company you have not visited online or in-store. Phishing scams get you to click on links and give up your personal and financial information. Remember the old adage, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
Use Multi-factor Authentication Whenever Available
This added layer of security sends you a unique one-time code via text to verify your identity and access.
Create Strong and Complex Passwords
Refrain from using autofill for logins or passwords. Use a password manager like LastPass or 1Password to randomly generate and store secure passwords. If you don’t use a password manager, be sure to change passwords frequently and do not reuse passwords for multiple sites.
Keep Technology up to Date
Install anti-virus and anti-spyware software, and then enable the security settings for your applications and web browser. Arguably, this is one of the easiest ways to you can defend yourself against cyber-crime.
Monitor Financial Accounts
Review your credit cards, bank accounts, and credit report regularly for fraudulent activity. Credit cards offer more consumer protection and less liability if your accounts are compromised. Alternatively, debit cards are linked directly to a bank account and create a greater risk if your information is stolen. Another tip is to set up alerts so that if your debit or credit card is used, you receive an e-mail or text message with the details.
For more information on holiday cyber-crime and how to protect your personal information, visit the following resources (they are legitimate and secure).
All expressions of opinion are subject to change. This content is distributed for informational purposes only, and is not to be construed as an offer, solicitation, recommendation, or endorsement of any particular security, products or services.