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You better watch out: Being cyber secure this holiday season – PART 1

Author

Executive

Alliance Marketing Manager

Winter festivities are around the corner and the celebrations are a time to be vigilant when opening season’s greetings as criminals are known to exploit holidays with themed scams. This is why we should exercise caution to avoid falling victim to click fraud, phishing emails, deceitful sales calls and malicious messages.

Fraudsters often send holiday-themed phishing messages under the guise of popular online retailers. They lure victims into opening links to messages that offer fake discount coupons and ask users to share personal data. Fake order confirmations with malicious attachments are another popular way of launching an attack capable of destroying data and stealing information.

Scammers also harvest users’ financial and personal information by replicating legitimate sites and sending scam email messages. They achieve this by hijacking insecure transactions that target unpatched software.

As you can see, the holidays are a busy time of year for everyone – including cybercriminals. They count on you to make a momentary lapse of judgment while you’re buying gifts online and booking trips.

So, how can you evade the traps laid out by cyber thieves? In this blog, we’ll show you how to better safeguard your personal data and help you gain a peace of mind while shopping online.

This holiday season, what do I need to know to practice a safer online shopping experience?

  •  Offer too good to be true? It probably is: Buy merchandise only from reputable retailers, and steer clear of brands and websites you don’t know.
  • Think before you click: Be skeptical about messages from unknown senders. Don’t open attachments or click links in email messages from people whose names you don’t recognize.
  • What’s in a name? Crooks often make small changes to the name of the domains and websites they use as clickbaits. Inspect the website and domain name to avoid being directed to a fraudulent address.
  • Make sure Wi-Fi is secure: Free public connections are full of security risks. Use only a virtual private network (VPN) or your phone as a hot spot when giving your credit card details.
  • SSL protection is your best friend: In addition to ensuring that your internet connection is secure, make sure that you’re buying gifts from sites that are safe to provide payment details and other personal information. Just look for the secure communication protocol “https” in the URL. Which will allow you to understand that you’re shopping from legitimate and trusted websites that won’t compromise your device and steal your data.
  • Be smart when making payments: Avoid paying with cash, money transfer services or a debit card linked to your bank account. Go for more secure payment options, such as a credit card or a pre-paid debit card. You may also consider getting a trusted digital wallet platform such as PayPal, Google Pay or Apple Pay.
  • Keep track of your accounts: Check your financial accounts frequently and make use of text or email notification services offered by banks and credit card companies. That way, you’ll instantly learn about suspicious spending and be able to take corrective action right away.
  • Make it difficult for the hackers: Select long, unique account passwords (that have numbers, symbols, capital letters and lower-case letters, but do not have dictionary words or a combination of dictionary words, and obvious substitutes), and get multi-factor authentication. Authentication tools such as biometrics or a unique one-time code will empower you against attackers with the most robust layer of protection available.
  • Switch up your passwords. If you have different passwords for different platforms, your accounts will be more difficult to hack.

We wish everyone a happy and secure holiday season!
Please contact us at marhaba@gbmme.com for any security-related queries.

Up next: Part-2: How can IT / Security professionals keep their organizations secure during the holidays

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