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Deck the Halls with Cybersecurity : How to Spot and Avoid Holiday Scams

Posted: Dec 2023

‘Tis the season for joy and celebration, but unfortunately, it’s also the season when cybercriminals ramp up their efforts to take advantage of unsuspecting individuals. As we exchange gifts and engage in online shopping during the holidays, the risk of falling victim to cyber threats increases. In this article, we’ll explore common holiday scams and provide you with essential tips on how to spot and avoid these cyber threats, ensuring a safe and secure festive season.

1. Phishing Scams:

   Phishing remains a prevalent threat during the holidays. Cybercriminals often send emails or messages disguised as legitimate entities, such as well-known retailers or delivery services. Be cautious of unexpected emails requesting personal information, financial details, or urging you to click on suspicious links. Always verify the sender’s authenticity and refrain from sharing sensitive information through unsecured channels.

2. Fake Websites and Apps:  

   Online shopping is a convenient way to tackle holiday gift lists, but it’s essential to stick to reputable websites and apps. Cybercriminals create fake platforms that mimic popular online stores, tricking users into providing payment information. Check for secure website indicators (https://) and read reviews before making purchases. Download apps only from official app stores to avoid falling victim to counterfeit applications.

3. Gift Card Scams:  

   Gift cards are a popular holiday present, and scammers exploit this by offering fake promotions or claiming urgent issues with your gift card. Be skeptical of unsolicited messages asking for gift card codes as payment. Legitimate organizations won’t demand payment through gift cards, and any such request should raise immediate red flags.

4. Shipping and Delivery Scams:  

   Cybercriminals often take advantage of the surge in online shopping by sending fake shipping notifications. These messages may contain malicious links or attachments, leading to malware installation on your device. Verify shipping notifications directly through the official website or contact the retailer using trusted contact information to ensure the legitimacy of the message.

5. Social Media Scams:  

   Holiday-themed quizzes, giveaways, and promotions on social media platforms may appear festive, but some are designed to harvest personal information. Exercise caution when engaging in such activities, and be wary of requests for excessive personal details. Stick to reputable accounts and official pages of known brands to minimize the risk of falling victim to social media scams.

6. Secure Wi-Fi Practices:

   Whether you’re shopping online or connecting to public Wi-Fi during your holiday travels, prioritize secure internet practices. Avoid using public Wi-Fi for sensitive transactions, and ensure your home network is protected with a strong, unique password. Consider using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) for an added layer of security when accessing public networks.

As holiday cheer fills the air, so too do the lurking threats of cybercriminals.  By staying informed, adopting secure online practices, and being cautious of unsolicited communications, you can protect yourself from falling victim to holiday-related cyber threats. This season, let the only surprises be the ones tucked under the tree, not the unwelcome ones lurking in your inbox or online. Share this article to spread awareness, and stay safe this holiday season!

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