5 Online Security Tips for the Holidays

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5 Online Security Tips for the Holidays

December 17th, 2013

online security

Don’t Let a Grinch Steal Your Christmas

It’s that wonderful time of the year again. When we’re all dashing off to the grab the best deals on gifts, both in stores and online. Unfortunately, criminals are also in good cheer, trying to take advantage of overlooked mistakes and online security weak-points.

According to the SSL store, every day over 156 million phishing emails are sent, 16 million pass successfully though email filters, 8 million are opened by recipients and 800,000 people click malicious links. Furthermore, according the Symantec, there were over 74,000 new unique malicious web domains in 2012. Last year, online scams such as these resulted in over $8.9 billion in losses in the U.S. Online scammers’ main targets include personal information, driver’s license information, social security numbers and banking details. Below is a list of five online security tips to help you have a safe and happy holiday season and New Year:

    1. 1. Secure your transactions. Look for websites with TRUSTe affiliations, the “closed lock” in the web browser’s address bar and an “s” in the URL address (“https://”), as this means the site has extra measures to help secure and encrypt your information.“Http://” is not secure. And when making online purchases, shop from your own computer on your home network/internet. With an unsecured public Wi-Fi hotspot, anyone can access your data using packet capture capabilities or a man-in-the-middle attack. Cybercriminals can collect data such as credit card numbers, account logins/passwords and email communications.
      2. Use strong passwords. Use at least eight characters, with numbers, special characters and upper and lower case letters. Don’t use the same passwords for online shopping websites that you use for logging onto your home or work computer. Never share your login or password, or use easily discernible passwords, such as a relative’s or pet’s name or birth date.
      3. Pay by credit card rather than debit card. Credit card transactions are protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act. Cardholders are typically only liable for the first $50 in unauthorized charges. If online criminals obtain your debit card information, they have the potential to empty your bank account.
      4. Select merchants carefully. Limit your online shopping to merchants you know and trust. Additionally, spammers and malware distributors frequently create emails that appear legitimate (UPS, your favorite department store, etc). The emails may look very convincing, but often will contain instructions to click a link, open an attachment, download a file or enter personal/account information. Always navigate to the company’s website by typing the retailer’s web address directly into the address bar, rather than clicking on email links.
      5. Keep a record of any online transactions. This includes the product description and price, the online receipt and copies of every e-mail you send or receive from the seller. Review your credit card and bank statements for unauthorized charges.
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