The holiday season is the perfect time to set aside our cares and enjoy the company of those we cherish the most.
However, between the presents, decorating, and round-the-clock airings of a certain Christmas movie, forgetting about cybersecurity is fairly easy to do. Cybercriminals don’t take a break for the holidays, but if you follow these guidelines, you can keep your data safe from the cyber-Scrooges of the world.
1. Beware public Wi-Fi networks.
It’s never a good idea to connect to unsecured public Wi-Fi networks, but this is especially true during the holidays. If you’re doing any online shopping while connected to one of these networks, you’re putting sensitive information such as your credit card number and address out in an unsecured space where anyone can find it. This also goes for employees working remotely during the holidays. If they’re using unsecured Wi-Fi, they risk sensitive company data falling into the wrong hands. Dodge the hassle by avoiding unsecured public Wi-Fi altogether.
2. Use trustworthy sites.
There’s nothing wrong with shopping online, but just as you wouldn’t buy presents from a sketchy business in a bad part of town, steer clear of websites you don’t trust. You may even find yourself on a website pretending to be a well-known vendor. In these cases, look closely at the URL and see if it uses some variant (i.e., .net instead of .com). Before you enter any personal information, look for https:// preceding the website’s URL.
3. Don’t fall for bogus deals.
If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Cybercriminals may try to lure in holiday shoppers with outrageous deals on popular items only to steal their information. Don’t be swung by huge discounts; if you see a pricey item for a tempting price, it very well may be a scam.
4. Who did that e-card come from?
If you find an unsolicited e-card in your email, pay attention to who sent it. Although the e-card may look legit, chances are it may be malware; if you don’t know the sender, the chances are even greater. You should also be on the lookout for misspellings and strange URLs. As always, don’t ever open any attachments you didn’t ask for.
5. Beware fake charities.
One of the lowest methods cybercriminals may employ is to take advantage of your generosity during the holidays. By posing as a charity or cause, scammers may ask you to donate through their website. In reality, these bogus causes are really just a front to steal your credentials. Pay attention to the details of the website, such as misspellings and strange URLs, and look for https:// in the address bar.
6. Secure all connected gifts.
It’s tempting to use your brand new devices right out of the box, but this can pose a security risk in itself. If your new device has any patches or updates, install them right away before playing with them. Otherwise, you may leave some security vulnerabilities exposed. You should make sure your home Wi-Fi network is secured. If the device came with a default password, change it to something more unique.
How do you keep your data safe during the holidays? Let us know in the comments!
“Cyber Security During the Holidays.” Infosec Institute. 8 January 2014.
Moore, Michael. “REVEALED – How to stay safe online this Christmas.” Express. 18 December 2016.
Patterson, Richard. “12 Scams of Christmas.” Fight Identity Theft.