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Cyber Security for Christmas

Laptop with Christmas tree cut out

It’s that time of year…. nights are dark, its cold, Christmas, bargains galore, children are excited, returns are simple, you name it there is every reason you can think of to shop online. The bargains are there. 2018 will be another record for on-line sales.

So too will internet crime. Will it be another record-breaking year? What are the top threats and data breaches. Non-payment/Non-delivery, Phishing, Cyber attacks, data breach are all on the up. Check out the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).

Every day you can trawl the net and find hacking attack reports and every security firm or press office does its own hacking survey showing alarming results. Should you stop, pop-up the umbrella, add a scaf and walk to the shops with a bundle of cash, staying off grid? No, of course not. However, some not so common sense should be applied to your shopping online processes. As they say a dog is not just for Christmas (important to note this!) and it is the same with online shopping and usage. Best practice is a year-round thing and not just for Christmas!

A. Do you know the Site? Used the site before? Recommended from a friend? Researched well? Search results can be rigged to lead you astray, check spellings of sites, don’t click sites from ‘friends’ email recommendation – check email addresses, beware of misspellings or sites using a different top-level domain. Or use the App via your mobile device, signing into the retailers app creates another level of trust and security

B. Check the certificate. Look for the lock. Today more and more sites are adding a SSL (secure sockets layer) certificate even to what are informational sites. BUT, never ever buy anything online using your credit card from a site that doesn’t have SSL encryption installed — at the very least please check for this. You’ll know if the site has a SSL cert because the URL for the site will start with HTTPS. What is SSL. Got it? Never shop online with out checking for SSL.

C. Love to share? Don’t. For shopping, ONLY give the site the data that you think they need, not what they ask for, when possible. You should, as a default, give as little personal data as you can. Don’t overshare. Some of the top headlines for hacking and security failure in 2018 were major sites – British Airways, Facebook etc to name just two. Its your data, keep it to yourself.

D. Do your admin! Check your online bank & credit card accounts often and regularly during the holiday season. ANY out of place or surprising amounts or payments could be fraudulent. Don’t be fooled by it coming from the likes of PayPal. Its better to highlight payments than to lose the money. If you see something wrong, deal with it quickly.

A good thing to consider is to ONLY buy online with a credit card, this not linked to your bank account like your debit car. Also having ONE card you only use online can help too with low limits.

E. Add protection, don’t want to pick up a nasty disease. Add antivirus and malware protection to your computer and devices. Also its not good enough to load and forget. Make sure your anti-malware tools are always up to date. New threats are always being developed and protections needs to be updated regularly.

F. Go private. If you feel the need to use a public hotspot, like those found in hotels, libraries, coffee shops and bookstores you should use a virtual private network (VPN) to be safer.

Most people don’t when they are out and about. It’s a simple thing to use and set up. It will make you more secure and less vulnerable to attack.

G. Be aware…. When you are in a café or bookshop browsing and casually shopping using your VPN etc remember those around you, people snoop!
If you have to shop online in public then beware, be aware. Back to the wall, nice corner seat, check people if they are watching.

H. Get a manager. Today smart people use a manage to deal with their important stuff and passwords are no different. Use a password manager to create hard to crack passwords for you. It’ll also keep track of them and enter them, so you don’t have to think about it. Good eh?

I. Know your seller. Put websites and companies through the wringer before you buy. Check reviews, ring them up, check with people who have purchased before, spend the time checking. Non-delivery/non-payment is one of the most common cybercrime complaint these days- more and more people are reporting the issue – no goods showed up!

J. All for one and one for all…. Complain! Tell the world if you get scammed. Think of others and don’t let it happen again. Complain, Report, Publish. Complain to the seller, report to the police and federal authorities, publish the scam and the site far and wide, give poor reviews. Don’t be embarrassed and let others get ripped off too.