Tips to stay Cyber Safe this holiday season (and year round):
Manage your passwords with care. Never share them, and adopt strong one… random numbers, letters, caps, special characters whenever possible. Never use easily guessed words in your password. It’s a good habit to use different passwords for different websites. That assures that a cyber criminal who breaks into one account can’t gain access to all your other online accounts.
- You can setup a password system that appears random, will create a different password for every website, and yet you can easily remember without writing down. For example, make your system something that includes your first initial, month of birth, the first letter in the website name (capitalized), the second letter of the website name, and your house number. That way just about every website password will contain a different first and second letter combination – but you will be able to figure it out when logging in. It shouldn’t be that exact system – but you get the picture.
- Use different email addresses for any shopping sites to limit likelihood of seeing all accounts compromised in the case of a data breach of one of your online retailers.
- Verify the online reputation of the e-commerce sites you access.
- Avoid online shopping on insecure wireless networks such as free Wi-Fi hotspots.
- This one is easy and important year around: Don’t click on suspicious links. Never open unknown files or download items from unknown sources. Don’t click on the link in that unsolicited email with an AMAZING deal. The deal should almost always be on the company’s website – no need to click on a random link.
- Check out the URL of the sites you visit to avoid to visiting a copy of legitimate websites managed by cyber criminals. Variations in spelling or a different domain (for example, the malicious site spoofing the clothing retailer “The Gap” may use thegap.net instead of gap.com) could deceive you.
- When you get an email, pay attention to the address in the from box (not just the name, but actually look at what the email address url is). You aren’t going to get a legitimate email from The Gap Customer service of firstname.lastname@example.org
- Shop on SSL sites online only. When buying online, look in the url box for https:// before providing any personal or credit card information.
- It’s a good habit to keep track of all your online orders. Also, periodically visit your banking accounts, verifying the list of transactions, and check the account balance.
- Don’t download apps for your mobile device from unknown sources. Always use official app stores like the Apple App Store, Google Play and the Amazon App Store. Always check the reputation of the app, looking for the feedback in the comments section of official stores.
- Use a secure device for your online shopping. Be sure that the software you use (e.g. browsers, mobile apps) and the OS are up to date. Install anti-malware solutions on PCs and mobile devices, and check if they’re running correctly.
If you have questions about cyber safety best practices or need help updating your malware/security system or updating the operating system on your phone, tablet or desktop – Contact Us, we are here to help.