The holidays are a time of great excitement, not only for you and yours, but also for hackers and cybercriminals. They know that with all the shopping and preparation everyone is doing, people may be less diligent with their cybersecurity. Here are some important things to do to keep you cyber safe this holiday season and beyond.
Cybercriminals are hoping that you are so caught up in your holiday shopping and preparations that you don’t check what you’re clicking before you click it — and end up infecting your device with malware or being taken in by their scam.
Take a good look at the email address in your inbox to make sure it actually comes from the particular charity; don’t accept strange addresses that are not connected to the organisation’s proper domain name. It is safest to make donations by going straight to the charity — either directly to their website or by contacting it.
Other fake emails will ask you to click on a link to confirm delivery. The senders are counting on you having incoming deliveries and hoping that you don’t double-check the order information before you click. Keep track of what you have ordered, and only use tracking links from your order confirmations that come directly from the vendor.
It’s pretty easy nowadays to copy a brand’s logo and formatting and to mock up a fake website. Again, scrutinise the email address and the email itself. Make sure it comes from the proper domain name and check to make sure the website address begins with “https” (indicating that the connection is encrypted), not “http”. Pay attention to things like spelling and grammatical errors, or things that require you to forward, reshare, or otherwise pass on. Be wary of deals that are too good to be true. If unsure, contact the vendor from its website and verify if the deals are legitimate.
Sure, people contact each other a lot around the holidays, but make sure you pay close attention to posts and messages. You may receive oddly worded information about a huge sale or incredible offer from someone who looks like one of your social media connections. If there is anything suspicious or odd about what they’ve sent you, contact them directly and verify whether they actually sent you something. It could be that one or more of their social media accounts has been compromised, and you are being baited by a scammer.
It’s always a good idea to stay up-to-date with software improvements and fixes, and to remind yourself and your employees about the following best practices.
Public WiFi may seem convenient, but it is also notoriously unsecured. Hackers can easily access your personal information — especially if you are entering credit card numbers and banking information. Wait until you are on a secure, password-protected internet connection. If you’re afraid you’ll forget to buy a certain product when you get home, make a reminder on your phone or the old fashioned way — with pen and paper.
Even before shopping online, make sure that you have downloaded all updates and patches for your device, software, or operating system. Invest in a good cybersecurity program for all your devices. Some updates and patches are the developers’ response to recent cybercrimes and hacks — not to mention improvements to how their products run.
Take advantage of the extra authentication processes for your various accounts. Many offer a multi-factor (at least a two-factor) authentication, which adds extra protection by sending you a text or email with a special code to enter, even after you have successfully signed in. Even if a cybercriminal hacks your password, it’s more difficult to get past this second stage. Additionally, if you haven’t logged into an account with multi-factor authentication and suddenly receive a code, you will know someone is trying to get access.
Remember that a password’s length and complexity make it harder to hack. Don’t use birthdays, popular strings of numbers, or anything someone who knows you might be able to guess. Many platforms now require owners of new accounts to create passwords with minimum requirements (such as capital letters and/or symbols in addition to the regular letters and numbers). Think of something that would only have meaning to you, or make it truly random. Ideally, you should have different passwords for all your different accounts. Use a password manager to keep track of your passwords.
Here’s hoping you have a safe and (cyber) secure holiday full of cheer and goodwill. If you have any questions or would like to find out how to enhance the cybersecurity on your devices, contact us. We’d love to help out.