Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Cyber Week are over, but many of us still have holiday shopping to do. There are several precautions you should take while doing business online and in physical space to protect yourself from cyber thieves this busy holiday shopping season.
6 Security Tips
- Safe Browser– Of course, ensure that any sites on which you enter any personal information use https to authenticate the site to you. This isn’t as much a problem as it may have been in the past, but it’s still good advice. Also, heed any warnings your browser gives about name mismatch or other errors: these can be signs of a fraudulent or compromised site.
- Don’t save credit card numbers on websites – I know it is tempting to have every site you use to save your payment information; entering it every time is annoying to me, too! It is is a security risk, though: if that site is compromised, attackers may gain access to your credit or debit card info and buy gifts for themselves. It is time-consuming to deal with a card issuer regarding charges against a stolen card.
- Set up payment alerts if your card issuer provides that service – These alerts send a text message to your phone every time someone uses your card. You can use these alerts to manage your spending budget, but they also serve to alert you to unauthorized use. One card company alerted my wife to “unusual activity” on one of our cards recently. It wasn’t fraud, but rather a purchase from a vendor we’d never used before. I appreciated their software was clever enough to consider it a possible fraudulent use.
- Don’t use the same password on multiple sites – It’s clearly convenient, but using a password manager is significantly easier for me. We’ve had multiple posts on password managers here, and if you don’t use one yet, you should check those posts out.
- Notify your card issuer if you travel overseas or will be using a card to purchase from an overseas vendor – In addition to the holiday shopping season, it is also holiday travel season. Many people travel internationally at this time of year, and due to the strong dollar, many more may do so this year. Also, websites are offering low prices from overseas vendors.
- Follow the usual safety rules when surfing the web and reading emails – I read recently (but cannot find definitive data) that 75% of cyber-attacks on businesses come from people clicking on links in email messages. Please don’t do that.
There are more safeguards to take this holiday shopping season, but these six will go a long way toward protecting individuals and organizations from cyber thieves and other attacks.
To your safe computing,