5 Ways to stay cyber-secure during the holiday season

The holiday season is a great time to reconnect with family and friends, but it’s also a prime time for scammers to prey on unwitting victims. Whether you’re planning a party, shopping for gifts online, or making travel arrangements, the festive season is not the time to let your guard down, especially since cybercriminals are working doubly hard during the holidays.

In fact, like you, cyber scammers are very busy during the season. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, highly impactful ransomware attacks occur during holidays and weekends because it is when people tend to be less vigilant against threats.

Here are some ways to protect yourself and your loved ones from holiday scams:

1. Be aware of common scams

Common holiday scams include fake charity solicitations, free vacation offers, and fake delivery notifications. If you’re unfamiliar with a particular offer or solicitation, research it before responding.

Scammers will take advantage of people’s generosity during the festive season and pretend to be a charitable foundation soliciting donations for the needy. To make sure you are giving to legitimate organizations, use online resources that verify charity foundations and provide detailed information about where their donations go.

Scammers will take advantage of people’s generosity during the festive season and pretend to be a charitable foundation soliciting donations for the needy.

You might also receive fake vacation prizes during the holidays. Scammers might send an unsolicited email or give you a call to tell you that you won a free getaway to a popular vacation destination. If you’re asked to pay fees or taxes, you should ignore the message or alert the authorities, as it’s likely fraudsters looking to steal your sensitive information and make money off of you.

Scammers are also aware that many people are expecting packages during the holidays, so be careful when receiving package delivery notices, whether via email, text, or phone call. These may be phishing attempts designed to steal your personal data.

Related reading: Securing Identities from Phishing – A Financial Sector Perspective

2. Don’t give out personal information

This includes your complete name, contact details, Social Security number, or financial information like credit card or debit card number. Scammers can acquire these details to commit a variety of scams including identity theft or fraud.

3. Be cautious about online shopping

When shopping online, only visit or purchase from secure websites. Around the holidays, cybercriminals create fraudulent sites that look like real ones. To entice prospective customers, they might offer products and services at very low prices for a limited period.

Follow these tips for a secure online shopping experience:

  • Shop only from established online retailers whose websites’ URL starts with “https,” and look for a padlock icon. This means that a site uses SSL protection and is therefore safe to submit your payment details to.
  • Read reviews about the seller’s site and products, including those found on its social media pages. These could tell you whether a site is trustworthy.
  • Use a credit card or prepaid debit card when making a purchase online rather than a a debit card linked to your bank account. Credit cards are less risky to use, as most credit card providers provide fraud liability protections.
  • As much as possible, connect to a secure Wi-Fi network when shopping online. Public Wi-Fi connections like those in airports and cafés may be free but aren’t 100% safe.

4. Use strong passwords and enable multifactor authentication (MFA)

Use a mix of letters, numbers, and special characters when creating passwords for online accounts. Better yet, create long passphrases. Avoid using easy-to-guess words or phrases such as your name, address, or birthdate.

For added security, enable MFA whenever possible. MFA is an additional layer of security that requires you to provide another piece of information beyond your password when logging in. This can be in the form of a code that’s sent to your phone or generated by an app, or a biometric factor like your fingerprint or facial recognition.

5. Monitor your bank activity

Keep an eye on your bank account and credit card statements for any unauthorized charges. The moment you see something suspicious, notify your bank or credit card company immediately.

To learn more about advanced security options that can protect your Salt Lake City company all year round, contact NetWize’s IT experts. Request a free consultation today.

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