By John Falck, founding partner at vSEC LLC
The holiday season offers many opportunities for cyber-criminals, as almost everyone is busier with online shopping and other activities between mid-November and the New Year. The following cybersecurity habits will help protect you and your family all the time, and are especially important during the coming weeks.
Be Skeptical of Emails
This is always true, but it can be harder to tell fake from real messages in the holidays. You probably are waiting for an Amazon delivery. If you are a customer, you usually can log in to a company website to see any message they send as an email, e.g, go to Amazon.com and check “shipping status” under Your Orders. If you want to donate money to a charity, use a search engine and go directly to their site instead of clicking on an email they (maybe) sent. If someone you don’t recognize sends you an email with a link (‘click to see your special greeting!’), either delete it or ask if it came from them before opening it.
Visit Known Websites
Pandemic supply chain problems are causing shortages in many products, forcing people to search harder for what they want to buy. Remember to hover your mouse over a url or link and check if it matches the company you think you are visiting. Check for typos in the url, which is an easy way to misdirect someone to a fake site.
Be careful making large purchases from companies and sites you don’t know. If considering a new company or product, see if they have a track record of reviews. Are the reviews plausible? How old are they? Were they all posted in a few weeks? Before ordering, you can send an email or call their service number to see if a person responds.
Protect Your Computer As basic protections, always run an antivirus program and make sure that and your computer are set to auto-update. Choose strong passwords and don’t reuse them on multiple sites. Where possible, turn on Two-Factor or Multi-Factor Authentication as a secondary protection to your password. Yes, getting an MFA text or email takes a moment longer, but nothing like the time to recover from stolen financial information.
Be cyber-careful, and make it a great holiday season for you and your family.