As 2021 comes to a close, we want to wish all of our employees, clients and partners the happiest of holidays. We also want to remind everyone that the bad guys don’t take holidays, so while you’re enjoying time with family and friends, be on the lookout for potential cybersecurity threats.
5 Ways to Stay Safe This Holiday Season
- The holiday season means more emails and texts…but check before you click on that link! Have you noticed an uptick in texts from unknown numbers that include links? For example, a number claiming to be a favorite shopping app that provides a link to an amazing offer or discount? Or perhaps you’ve gotten an email that says you need to update your payment information to continue using a subscription service. These can look legitimate, but often they’re phishing attacks. When in doubt, send a separate communication to the company to verify – do not click the link.
- Enjoy your vacation – but don’t let the world know about it. Taking a holiday trip to visit family? That’s great! But don’t publicize your absence to everyone on social media – bad guys may be watching and can use the information to craft super-specific attacks such as emails from your hotel or texts from your airline.
- Get out and celebrate the holiday but avoid using public Wi-Fi. Chances are, you’ll be out and about this holiday season, and you may be inclined to use public, unsecured Wi-Fi to avoid using your data plan (and potentially dealing with a slower connection). However, it’s really easy for hackers to create public Wi-Fi networks, label them as some business name, and use it to access data on your mobile device. Think about turning off your Wi-Fi when you leave the house. Sure, you may be dealing with a slightly slower connection, but it’s a lot better than a holiday hack!
- Avoid the crowds with online shopping but check the site first before you buy. There’s nothing better than getting in on an amazing sale, but before you enter in all your personal and payment info, take a quick look at the URL in the search bar. See a lock symbol and HTTPS before the website address? Excellent. Don’t see the lock and the site starts with HTTP? Get out of there because the site doesn’t use encryption and your data is at risk. Another quick tip – consider using a credit card or a payment service like PayPal to purchase your items. They’re not directly linked to your bank account and often provide more protection if your information is compromised.
- Give yourself the gift of a strong password and multi-factor authentication. We’re still talking about passwords? You bet we are, because people continue to use easy-to-guess passwords that hackers can easily figure out. Think about using a passphrase that incorporates letters, numbers and symbols. Maybe something like, [email protected]$.
If you have a password manager like 1Password, you can eliminate the excuse of “I won’t be able to remember the password if it’s too complex,” because the password manager keeps all of that information secure, and you only need to remember one password. And try to set up multi-factor authentication on all of your accounts. This means you’ll a text or code that you’ll enter into the site or app following entering your typical login details. It takes a few extra seconds, but it’s worth it for the added level of security.
We hope you find these tips helpful – here’s to a joyful holiday and a Happy New Year!