‘Tis the season for holiday shopping and hackers! Not to be a Grinch here but as Black Friday and Cyber Monday approach us, the two biggest shopping days of the year, it’s imperative that consumers everywhere follow some simple steps to protect themselves and their wallets. This level of security awareness should not only apply during the holiday season but ALL the time. Remember, cyber criminals work around the clock – 24x7x365 – which is why you need to protect yourself around the clock too!
As you probably know, 2015 brought another overload of data breaches across many sectors including retail, and as a result, many consumers have had their personally identifiable information (PII) exposed. And with each breach, more PII can fall into the hands of hackers, resulting in identity theft which is never easy to clean up.
So to help consumers this holiday shopping season, we’re offering some helpful tips and reminders for keeping consumers secure, both online and in stores:
- Update your anti-virus and computer software regularly. And if you don’t have anti-virus, get it immediately. However, be careful where you download your AV from because there are a lot of fake AV scammers out there. Go to the website of the AV provider directly to download it safely and double check ratings on sites like PC Magazine and ZDNet to find the best one for you.
- When to use cash vs. credit? Whenever possible, use cash for your transactions in stores. Just remember to keep all your receipts either printed out or via email in case you have to make a gift exchange. When shopping online, it’s always a better idea to use a credit card versus a debit card. That way, if there are fraudulent charges made to your account, you can dispute them with your credit card provider more easily.
- Do not use public Wi-Fi. It’s never a good idea to use public Wi-Fi from airports, coffee shops, restaurants and more, and certainly not when you are shopping online and transacting with retailers using your credit cards. Public Wi-Fi is a great attack vehicle for online cyber criminals who can spy on your activity through man-in-the-middle attacks. Use a private home Wi-Fi connection or your own personal hotspot available inside your phone.
- Ensure you are using SSL-encrypted websites whenever you transact. While not foolproof, making sure you’re using a website that has the HTTPS (look for the “S” that stands for “secure” and the little padlock in the upper lefthand corner) connection in the web address. This will at least give you peace of mind that your connection is encrypted to prevent cybercriminals from eavesdropping on your traffic.
- Use a strong password manager and digital vault. The average person has 19 passwords to remember but 1 in 3 passwords are not strong enough. Utilizing multiple passwords (and recycling the same 3 or 4) makes it nearly impossible to keep them all straight when you’re shopping on Amazon.com, Target.com, Macys.com and more. It’s a much better idea to use a password manager like Keeper that gives you one master password to remember and uses military grade encryption to ensure any data inside the Keeper digital vault remains secure at all times. Password managers alleviate the headache of managing too many passwords and will only make your life easier.
Hopefully, these simple security tips will help to ensure a safer and more secure holiday for all and keep the cyber criminals locked away with the naughty elves and a lump of coal!
The Keeper Support Team