With the holiday season well underway, Americans are busy traveling, visiting family, attending parties and completing their shopping lists. While online shopping can be a great solution to saving time during this busy season, it can also end with identity theft, malware, phishing campaigns and other cyber scams.
Businesses and consumers are not the only ones busy during this time of year; cybercriminals are also hustling to prepare their attacks on unknowing online shoppers. Hackers try to get lost in the shuffle by taking full advantage of the flood of online transactions.
Through social engineering, each year more and more identities are stolen and used fraudulently. In 2015, cybercriminals claimed approximately $15 billion from 13.1 million people. And with the major holidays coming up, the amount of attacks are expect to grow – especially with the rise and accessibility of online shopping.
Not only do employees browse for Christmas gifts online during their lunch breaks, but an increasing number of people work remotely over the festive period. Employees can unknowingly put their business at risk from the inside by inadvertently opening the door to a virus or spyware, which can have devastating consequences to a business and its customers.
Whether you’re at the office or at home, follow these practical tips when spending time online this holiday season – and all year long – to stay cyber secure.
TIPS FOR A CYBER SECURE HOLIDAY SEASON:
Avoid browsing on unsecure networks
Cybercriminals often use unsecured Wi-Fi spots to target users on the same network and steal personal information. Refrain from sending sensitive material through open or public networks, including credit or debit card account information. Also avoid public computers or public networks when online shopping as they may contain viruses or other malware that can lead to identity theft or financial fraud.
Don’t click suspicious links or files
Between Black Friday and Christmas, phishing websites surge. Not only are people more likely to open attachments with holiday themed images, hackers lure unsuspecting victims with unbelievable offers. By downloading a malicious file, you may end up allowing malware into your network that can steal critical personal information. As a rule of thumb, if an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Additionally, avoid responding to pop-ups that promise cash or gift cards for completing a questionnaire or survey. To close the window, press Control + F4 on Windows computers or Command + W for Mac computers. Read more to protect against phishing campaigns.
Secure computers and mobile devices
Be sure to keep operating systems, software, and applications updated and patched on all devices. Use up-to-date antivirus protection and check that your computer is receiving regular updates. Antivirus software monitors and scans for malicious activity and can ensure protection against Trojans, malware and spyware.
Also, the use of strong passwords is one of the simplest and most important steps to secure devices and online accounts. A secure password has more than ten characters and includes numbers, special characters, upper and lower case letters. As a best practice, use a unique password for every site, especially for sensitive accounts. And if the option is provided, always enable two-step verification as an extra form of security.
Don’t auto-save personal information
When purchasing items online, merchants give the option to save your personal or login information online for future use. Consider if the convenience is worth the risk. The convenience of not having to reenter the information is insignificant compared to the amount of time you’ll spend trying to repair the loss of your stolen personal and sensitive data. When possible, always check out as a guest to avoid the possibility of compromised accounts.
Dunbar Cybersecurity offers flexible solutions to service the unique security needs of your business. Complete the form below to request an assessment and learn how Dunbar can secure and protect your digital assets.