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Tips to Stay Cyber Safe this Holiday Season

by | Dec 2, 2020 | Corporate, Technology

The holidays are in full swing and so are the best deals for shopping! Like everything else, holiday shopping will be a bit different this year because of the ongoing pandemic.

Pre-COVID online shopping was already expected to continue its increase in 2020, but with more customers avoiding the holiday crowds, shopping trends have dramatically shifted toward the online space. Unfortunately, this also means the busiest time for online scammers and hackers on the lookout for your personal and financial information.

While shopping online, be vigilant of phishing and SMiShing scams, ransomware, credit card fraud and identity theft.

Here are some security best practices you can follow:

  • Do online shopping at home and make sure your connection is secure.
  • When making a purchase, confirm the address bar of your browser begins with https:// (not “http://”).  The ‘s’ stands for secure and indicates the data being transmitted is encrypted.
  • You can also confirm if a website is legitimate at the WhoIs Public Internet Directory to check for the retailer’s domain registration information.
  • Stay vigilant of social media scams as well. An alert issued by the Federal Trade Commission revealed that complaints about money lost to social media scams had tripled this year.
  • Be suspicious of online sellers offering goods or services at significantly discounted prices.
  • If a store is less than a year old or located in a high threat area like China or Russia, reconsider.
  • Beware of flashy websites that can be created and removed quickly. 
  • Avoid smaller, lesser known websites that may be lacking the same level of security as larger, established companies who typically commit substantial resources to cyber security.
  • Provide minimal personal data. Online retailers do not need your birthday and should never ask for a social security number.
  • Frequently review activity and monthly statements.
  • Use strong and unique passwords. Do not use the same password on multiple accounts.
  • Use a credit card instead of a debit card. Most credit cards have built-in fraud protection; however, any suspicious activity should be reported immediately.
  • Avoid entering credit card details:
    • Large websites like Amazon store payment information in the account so it does not have to be fully entered every time you make a purchase.
    • Use Apple Pay, PayPal, or similar payment systems that generate a one-time token for each transaction and enable you to forego entering payment information on an e-commerce site.

It’s always a good idea to prepare for cybercrime, and whenever possible avoid becoming a victim of it. Stay vigilant, take precaution and we hope you have a happy and safe holiday!