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Holiday Season Cybersecurity Tips

Cybersecure Holiday Shopping

As we get ready for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, we thought we would share a few tips to help keep everyone cyber-safe during this holiday shopping season!

Tips for before holiday shopping

Set up feedback/alerts on your bank and credit card accounts.

This can help you keep tabs on account activity. The faster you can detect any fraud on your account the less damage they can do.

Enable two-step verification on your bank, credit card and/or money transfer app accounts.

Simple passwords are not enough anymore; you should use Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA, click here for more information).  This will help make sure that your accounts are only accessed by authorized individuals.

Change your passwords to a long, unique and strong password.

Long pass phrases (> 15 characters) are more difficult to hack than short, complex ones.  Remember to never use the same password twice and it’s recommended to change your password once per year as a general refresh.

Update your software to make sure you have the most up-to-date software on your devices.

According to a 2019 Ponemon Study, 60% of breach victims said the attack happened because of unpatched software.

Tips for Black Friday shopping

Never leave your purse, wallet or shopping bag unattended while shopping in-store.

Thieves also see the holidays as open season on the unprepared, so protect your cards, cash, and presents while you shop.

Lock all purchases in the truck of your car and avoid leaving them in plain sight.

Many people store their purchases in their cars while they shop and thieves are on the prowl… don’t be an easy victim.

Never make a purchase on Open/Public Wi-Fi hotspots.

Public Wi-Fi hotspots are usually setup to be convenient but not necessarily secure; a hacker could be waiting to steal your information.

Use safe methods for purchasing such as using a credit card instead of a debit card.

Credit cards usually have better security controls than your debit card.  An even better idea is to buy pre-loaded gift cards; these are useless once used so it limits your exposure.

Check and monitor your credit card and bank statements.

As the saying goes, ‘the price of freedom is eternal vigilance.’  Keep an eye on your accounts to make sure they are not being used by unauthorized parties.

Tips for Cyber Monday shopping

Be cautious of online links offering incredible deals from unknown merchants, which could be phishing scam attempts.

If it seems too good to be true it probably is.  Scammers are banking on everybody looking for a deal, so do not let your desire to save get the best of you.

Never make a purchase on Open/Public Wi-Fi hotspots.

As we stated above, these public hotspots are configured to be convenient and not necessarily secure so use a VPN or your cellular network instead.

Check the website you’re buying from.

Make sure the business in using an encrypted HTTP or HTTPS connection (meaning the URL should start with https://); this can protect your personal and/or credit card information when you make purchases.

Only confirm order details directly through the retailer’s site.

Do not be fooled by scam emails asking you to confirm by clicking on a link; these are often used to lure in well intentioned users.

Check and monitor your online accounts and credit reports regularly during and after the holiday season.

As we mentioned earlier, checking your accounts often is the best way to stop the bad guys as soon as possible by reporting them to your bank.

Shayne Champion

Shayne Champion is the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) at MediSked, LLC. With almost 30 years in Information Technology (IT) and Cyber Security industries, Shayne has experience spanning a wide range of technical domains. He has built, worked in, lead, and/or managed a wide variety of IT organizations prior to joining MediSked in 2020.

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