Five Steps to Staying Secure this Holiday Shopping Season
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Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals tend to generate a lot of excitement. Cyber criminals are hoping to catch you with your guard down as you search for the perfect gift for your loved ones at an amazing price on the two busiest shopping days of the year. Vigilance when shopping online is our first line of defense.
Here are some tips to shop safely and keep you and your data secure.
- Ensure your software is up to date, and never install unfamiliar software. Updating your software and applications can mitigate some of the risks we take by shopping online, and it takes minimal time. If new software or apps are needed for shopping, be sure to only download from verified sources that are known and trusted.
- Prioritize selectivity where you shop. Deal items being sent from certain online shops may be infected with malware. It is important to use caution and watch for tell-tale signs of phishing attacks.
- Be on the lookout for fake websites. Cyber criminals create fake websites in hopes of passing them as legitimate for shopping purposes. Before entering any information into a website, always check that the site is safe and secure. Subtle changes such as pixelated images or site functions that aren't working properly are indicators. To check the authenticity of websites, take a good look at the URL before clicking on any link. Check that the URL begins with https://. Without HTTPS, any data passed on the site is insecure and could be intercepted by cyber criminals.
- Stay vigilant against suspicious emails. According to research from Bitdefender, 56% of Black Friday spam emails received between October 26 and November 6, 2022, were scams. The speed, convenience and high return on investment make phishing one of the easiest ways for cyber criminals to attack. As Black Friday and Cyber Monday approach, be wary of any emails offering cash prizes or last-minute deals. Paying close attention to email offers during this time, especially those that require urgent action to be taken, will help protect you and yours this holiday season.
- Avoid deals that are too good to be true. Black Friday and Cyber Monday feature many legitimate deals offered by reputable retailers. However, cyber criminals know searches for the most affordable deals will be occurring and they take advantage of this. Cyber criminals take this as a prime opportunity to scam unsuspecting individuals by utilizing fake discount offers on big-name brand items.
For business emails, follow company policies and standards.
For personal emails and text messages, refer to the websites listed below for additional information.
If the email came to your personal email address, don't do what it says. Do not click on any links – even the unsubscribe link – or reply back to the email. Just use that delete button. Remember, DON'T CLICK ON LINKS, JUST DELETE.
You can take your protection a step further and block the sending address from your email program.
Here's how to…
- Block a sender on Outlook.
- Block a sender on Gmail.
- Block a sender on Mac Mail.
- Block a sender on Yahoo! Mail.
Pay close attention to credit card and debit card transactions. If you see unauthorized activities on any of your debit or credit payment cards, perform a credit freeze and immediately report these activities to your financial institutions.