The holiday season is upon us, and with that, a plethora of shopping, traveling and deal-making to be had. Unfortunately, in addition to all those wrapped packages, this time of year also delivers more ways for cyber attackers to take advantage of users.
Before you put yourself or your business at risk, here are some cybersecurity tips to keep you safe this holiday season.
If your inbox looks anything like ours, it’s overflowing with at least one email from what feels like every retail store or website you’ve ever visited. It’s like Christmas out there – for cyber criminals!
This time of year, while we’re busy shopping for gifts for loved ones, booking a holiday getaway or keeping an eye on last minute shipping notifications, cyber attackers are at the ready and waiting to capitalize on our simplest mistakes. Holiday phishing emails are some of the most effective, and often catch users off-guard. Don’t forget to keep a wary eye on incoming emails, text messages and even voicemails that ask for sensitive information or prompt you to take actions that seem suspicious.
If it features one of these hallmarks, it could be a holiday phishing scam:
While you’re out shopping or if you’re traveling for the holidays, you may be tempted to connect to public Wi-Fi spots at the airport, shopping mall or another public place. Beware – as these are prime targets for cyber criminals.
Never enter any personal information, including credit card details, over a public Wi-Fi network. And if you’re using a corporate device, this becomes even more important! Instead, connect over a secure VPN to ensure any electronic data is protected from theft or compromise.
One of the ways hackers have been able to improve the success of phishing and social engineering campaigns is with the use of personal information – often provided by users themselves without even realizing! There’s a wealth of information available on social media networks like Facebook and Instagram (e.g. birthdates, kids and pets’ names, birthdates, shopping preferences, etc.) that cyber attackers can leverage for savvy holiday phishing scams that grab your attention and seem legitimate. Be careful what you share on social sites like this; even if your profile has security settings in place, you should assume all information posted is publicly available.
Apply this same level of caution when sharing your location data also. Local scammers can take note when you are away on vacation or out shopping and steal packages from your doorstep – or worse!
Perhaps the most sensitive information to keep protected? Your banking information. If you’re doing a lot of your holiday shopping online, here are a few reminders to help protect your financial security:
Cyber criminals are notorious for taking advantage of websites, applications and operating systems that are not up to date with the latest software and security patches. Be sure that the tools you use to shop online – from mobile devices to web browsers – are utilizing the most updated versions so hackers can’t capitalize on unpatched vulnerabilities and gain access to sensitive information.
Perhaps you’re trying to snag that big holiday coupon, but you’ve already signed up with your personal email. Thinking about using your business email for a second chance? Think again!
By providing your business email, you’ve now opened up your company’s network and data to potential harm and given hackers a whole new world to explore and penetrate. Our holiday tip: keep your personal and business lives (and contact information) separate!