Buying gifts online, booking travel arrangements, and giving back to charitable organizations – the holidays can be a very busy time of year. However, cybercriminals are also busy working to take advantage of unsuspecting shoppers. However, you can fight back against thieves and better protect your personal information.
National Retail Federation forecast that holiday retail sales during November and December will grow between 6% and 8% over 2021. With all those dollars changing hands it is paramount to add holiday cybersecurity to your list this season.
When shopping online, consider the following safety tips:
• Use secure Wi-Fi. Using free public Wi-Fi to shop online while at your favorite coffee shop is tremendously convenient, but it is not cyber safe. Don’t make purchases while connected to public Wi-Fi; instead use a virtual private network (VPN) or your phone as a hotspot.
• Lock down your login. Create long and unique passwords for all accounts and use multi-factor authentication. Multi-factor authentication will fortify your online accounts by enabling the strongest authentication tools available, such as biometrics or a unique one-timecode sent to your phone or mobile device.
• Think Before You Buy. Be wary of offers too good to be true – no matter how tempting they might be. Buy only from trusted and established online retailers.
• Double check before you click. Most successful cyberattacks start with a phishing email. Don’t open emails from unknown senders or click on links in suspicious messages.
• Shop securely. Check to make sure you’re shopping on a site that uses SSL protection. The easiest way to tell is to check your browser’s address bar. Look for https in the URL. Sites without the “s” are not safe to submit payment information or other personal details.
• Pay wisely. Use a credit card or pre-paid debit card instead of a debit card linked to your bank account. Or, use a reliable, established third-party payment service, such as Google Pay, Apple Pay or PayPal.
• Monitor your accounts. Check your online financial accounts regularly for suspicious spending. Sign-up for email and text alerts that banks and credit card companies now offer.
Remember the best defense against online threat actors is cybersecurity awareness.
TIPS & TRICKS
When using anew website for purchases, read reviews and see if other consumers have had positive experiences.
WHEN IN DOUBT, TOSS IT OUT
Emails are the most successful way that online threat actors phishing users. If you are not sure whether the email is legitimate, it is better to throw it away versus risk your information. When possible contact the person or company directly to verify the communication. Do not click on links, download attachments, or forward them to another person.
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