If you haven’t started your holiday shopping yet, you definitely will soon. And with record numbers of ecommerce sales year after year, there’s no better time than the end of October and Cyber Security Month to refresh your memory with tactics for staying safe online.
Consider performing a password audit
Data breaches are one of the cyber security threats that you really can’t do much to prevent. Usernames and passwords are heavily targeted by criminals looking to commit financial fraud.
Stay on top of their efforts by taking an honest look at your passwords. Don’t use the same password everywhere you go online. Using the same password even twice can put your accounts at risk. If one website gets hacked, that makes the other account vulnerable.
Try using a password manager to keep your passwords complex and unique. There are even online tools to check if your login credentials have been stolen in a data breach. Try out the Password Checkup extension by Google to help alert you if you are using a compromised password.
Always update your security software
Criminals like to exploit vulnerabilities in software to access your devices, including laptops, mobile phones and tablets. When you see those pesky notifications asking you to accept a software update, don’t keep putting it off. Those updates often include important security patches that will shore up those weaknesses and keep your device safer from attacks. Make it a habit to check for updates and stay aware when news hits that a vulnerability has been exploited.
Be careful when shopping online
So much about our online lives has become about ease convenience. Automatic payments. Saved passwords. Face unlock. But just because a website is offering you the ability to save a minute or two, doesn’t mean you should always take it. Many shopping sites encourage you to save time by saving your payment information, so you won’t have to input lengthy account numbers every time you purchase. But every time you save your financial info with a retailer, you’re putting it at risk of being stolen in a data breach.
Learn to spot and avoid phishing scams
Phishing is one of the most common way cyber criminals will steal your personal information and sensitive financial data. Scammers will blanket a huge series of email addresses and phone numbers with fraudulent email and text messages, hoping you click a link that will either expose your device to harmful software or cause you to input your credentials into a fake website. Always scrutinize the email address that sends messages saying anything like “We’ve noticed suspicious activity on your account” or “There’s a problem with your payment information, please click to here to make a payment.” That text message offering you a free trip or coupon might seem enticing, but if it came unsolicited from a number you don’t recognize, it’s definitely too good to be true.