The Holiday season has arrived and Cyber Criminals are out in full swing. Make sure they only get coal this year by following these 5 easy steps.
- Only shop at websites you know and trust.
Legitimate websites will be protected by SSL – Secure Socket Layer – protection and your browser will notify you if anything seems amiss. All websites that have a valid SSL certificate will have HTTPS in the URL (notice the S, that stands for secure) and your browser will usually show a green padlock showing that the certificate checked out and the site is legitimate.
If the website is not protected by SSL and your browser warns you that the site is not safe. Steer clear.
- Avoid Public WiFi
You may be at your favorite coffee shop and decide to do some quick holiday shopping. You want to save on data so you connect to the free wifi. Since WiFi uses public airspace, and most companies do not have policies preventing devices from talking to each other an attacker could “sniff” your WiFi traffic and capture your personal information. It is never a good idea to shop online or log into any website while on public WiFi.
- Create And Use Strong Passwords
If a Cyber Criminal has your password they can log into your accounts and order stuff and have it shipped to their location without you ever knowing. You just bought gifts for the entire Cyber Criminal community. Always use strong passwords and never re-use the same password on multiple sites. Passwords such as “Holiday2018” just doesn’t cut it anymore. Here are some quick password tips from our block post “Finally! A Password Policy I Can Get Behind!“:
Use a complex password comprised of words or phrases you can easily remember, make it personal so they are easy to remember. For Example: DogFishApplePhone or ILove7ApplesAnd5Bananas. Throw in a few uppercase letters and numbers and you have yourself a very long and secure password
Never use personal information in any password. Information such as your name, birth date or year, the start date at your job, or your phone number. This information is easy to find out by attackers and gives them easy guesses for your password.
- Be Wary Of Email Scams
Aggressive advertising in your E-mail inbox can pique your curiosity. That “Special Offer” email could be just the gift that Cyber Criminals are hoping for. E-mail can easily be infected with viruses and malware that would allow an attacker unfettered access into your PC. As a general rule of thumb, if it is not from a legitimate source that your recognize delete first and ask questions later.
Also be extremely wary of E-mail from banks or financial institutions saying your account was compromised and to “click here to login” in order to restore your account. These “Phishing” E-mails are very common and sometimes it is very hard to determine authenticity. Always use your web browser to browse to that site directly and log in, never click any links in the E-mail. Most institutions will never ask for personal information or for login information via E-mail.
- Always Pay With A Credit Card
All major credit cards have a zero liability clause. What this means is that if, after making sure you are protected, your credit card information is still gifted to a Cyber Criminal you are still protected. Federal regulations state that you do not have to pay any unauthorized charges while the company investigates. If the company rules in favor of fraud, you will not have to pay those charges back.
While you may be tempted to use your debit card instead (even if it has a Visa or MC logo) the liability for debit cards is different and is regulated by the bank. Most banks cap protection at $50 if reported within 2 business days. If you don’t report the fraud within 60 business days you could just be out of luck.
Following these tips could save you thousands this Holiday season. Shop smart and keep your information safe.