3 Cybersecurity Tips For The Upcoming Holidays
As we ease into the fall, the holidays are just around the corner, but for some, they've already arrived. Christmas - and more aptly, Christmas shopping - seems to arrive earlier each year as people try to find the best presents for their loved ones. It doesn't matter if you're an early bird who started shopping back in the summer or a patient shopper waiting until the red cups are back at Starbucks before they hit the malls. Whatever date marks the start of your shopping, 'tis the season to share your personal information online.
From Cyber Monday finds to last-minute expedited parcels, the average online order form requires your contact and credit card numbers - two precious commodities in the digital world. To make sure your data stay safe this season, follow this quick and simple guide to cybersecurity
1. Curate a clutter-free inbox
Next to a profile, regular subscriptions are one of the most common ways retailers will ask for your information. Once you fill out enough of these request forms and enter a few contests, these newsletters and reminders will bury important messages from friends, family, and colleagues.
One solution involves removing yourself from these lists, but if you rely on these newsletters to find special offers or codes to get amazing deals, you can't give them up cold-turkey. If you're intending to keep receiving these messages, you need to better organize your email, so they don't clutter your inbox. If you use Gmail, use the Google Learning Center to learn how to optimize your inbox. If you use Outlook, this is the guide that will show you how to direct newsletters and other subscriptions to a specific folder.
2. Only open mail from trusted senders
With a better organized inbox, you'll be able to recognize unusual emails for what they are - spam or scam. They aren't necessarily the same thing. Spam on it own is just an unsolicited message from a business that has harvested your email from an easily accessible source online. Experts estimate more than 95% of all emails sent are spam!
Increasingly, spam is being sent from infected sources or computers with viruses. These spammers hope you open their email and click on any of the links held within, so they can infect your email address and potentially your entire computer.
A scam is another unsolicited message from an unknown sender. However, they aim to steal your information and/or money through fraudulent means. Almost everyone knows of the infamous Nigerian Prince that promises a million-dollar inheritance in exchange for a bank account number, but the world of email scams is a diverse and scary one. Some of them are quite sophisticated. These scams can trick you into sharing personal information by posing as a familiar retailer you know, going so far as to copy their branding and marketing style.
To protect yourself from these scammers, you should:
● Always look at the email source: A scammer usually has an unusual domain or URL that looks nothing like the brand they're trying to imitate. In fact, it typically includes a random collection of letters and numbers.
● Never click links from unfamiliar senders: Curb your curiosity. Clicking on a link in a spam or scam email could send you to a compromised site containing malware and other viruses.
● Never reply to a request for your personal information: Some spammers will pose as legitimate financial services like your bank, online lender, or the IRS. They use these trusted names and aggressive language as scare tactics. They'll claim you owe money and the police will be involved if you don't immediately send cash.
While you will receive sincere messages from financial institutions, they'll never ask you to send your bank account or credit card numbers in an email. For example, an online lender like MoneyKey will always direct you back to their website MoneyKey.com to update your online payday loans profile. Remember these basic business practices to save yourself from becoming a phishing victim.
3. Connect to trusted servers
Thanks to the Internet of Things (or the IoT for short) you can do your holiday shopping from anywhere you get Wi-Fi. The IoT is a network that connects billions of devices through the Internet, and many of them are the phones, tablets, or portable laptops holiday shoppers use to find the best deals. But just because you can do it doesn't always mean you should.
Most free Wi-Fi connections offered to the public are unsecured, meaning they don't require a password to screen potential users from connecting. In other words, anyone can access this network. While most people in the café enjoying their pumpkin spice latte won't twist this free connection to spy on their fellow browsers, those with enough skill can. These fraudsters can break the network to peek at the websites you visit and the login information you provide, including the credit card number you tap in to finalize your sale.
Starbucks isn't the only public Wi-Fi you should avoid. You should avoid using any Internet connection that isn't protected by a password when you're shopping. These networks are better suited for fluff browsing that doesn't involve sharing personal data.
Wait until you get home. Simple patience can help protect you from a potential attack, proving online security can be uncomplicated. The above tips don't take a lot of effort, yet they pay off in a big way. They can help you take advantage of online deals without jeopardizing your finances.
More than two-thirds of shoppers (83%) plan to buy their gifts online this season. If you intend to join them, make sure you incorporate these tips the next time you load up your shopping cart. This habit can keep your data safe from prying eyes all season long.