Cybersecurity Tips for the Holiday Season

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By: Matt Bartles, Process Competency Center Lead, Impact Makers

Holiday Cybersecurity Tips for 2021 

The holiday season is when we catch up with friends and family and do lots of shopping! Unfortunately, it is also when financially motivated cyberthreats are at their peak. Here are some tips to make sure that your holidays are not disrupted by having to manage a security issue. 

  • Fake Websites– Fake websites will try to draw you in with hard-to-get products and impossible discounts. Bad spelling, grammar errors and close-but-not-exact web addresses are indicators of a fake website. To be safe, always make sure you see a little padlock in the address bar of your browser before you enter any payment details. 
  • Fake Apps – Shopping on your cell phone can be convenient when you are on the go. Knowing this, scammers have built fake shopping apps to infiltrate your smartphone, install malware or commit fraud. Use trusted app stores like Google Play or Apple’s App Store to avoid fake apps.
  • Phishing– Phishing can reel you in by using a familiar name or appearing as a legitimate institution on social media, texts, and email. These communications may have attachments that contain ransomware or links that send you to malicious website. Always make sure you know the sender, look out for pressure tactics, and avoid opening unexpected attachments or links. If you have any doubts about a request, call the person on a number you know (not one in the email) and verify their voice before following their instructions, especially if they ask you to send money orders or buy gift cards.
  • Public Wi-Fi – Cybercriminals may be able to obtain your personal and financial data via shared public Wi-Fi. In fact, they may even set up fake Wi-Fi hotspots in crowded public spaces to lure unsuspecting users and get their data. Try to do your online shopping from a private network or make your purchases in person.
  • Delivery Scams – Cybercriminals may attempt to pose as a FedEx or Amazon delivery agent via text or email, much like phishing. They will ask for your personal information to help resolve a non-existent issue with delivering a holiday package. Look out for oddly named senders and be aware that reputable companies don’t ask for sensitive information via email and text.
  • Use your Credit Card– Your credit card may be the safest tool to make online purchases. Credit cards prevent thieves from getting access to your actual money. Frequently check your credit card accounts on your bank’s website during the holiday season. Report anything unusual as soon as possible. 

Cybercriminals are hoping that your guard is down during the busy holiday season. Keep these tips in mind as you spread joy. If you want to learn more or report a potential issue, please visit the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency at cisa.gov 

 

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