Every year with the holiday season comes an increase in online browsing and shopping as shoppers begin to check off items from their gift lists. Online shopping has steadily grown in popularity over the past decade, especially as technology advances and shipping times decrease.
During shopping surges, such as the months leading up to Christmas, cyber security threats increase as well. Online hackers take advantage of the increase in online presence and the number of transactions to target unsuspecting customers and their personal information.
Types of Holiday Cyber Threats
Shopping online, whether during the holidays or now, comes with risks. The same applies to any activity in which your personal information is shared with another party. Knowing the top types of threats that exist prior to browsing online is a great idea to better protect yourself against potential attacks.
Phishing occurs when scammers send emails that appear to be authentic pieces of correspondence – for example, from a reputable retailer. Often, phishing emails request you to update your personal information or payment options due to an issue with the transaction or “compromised security.” These scams are instead just looking to gain that personal or payment information for use in making other fraudulent purchases.
Malware takes many forms, including spyware, viruses, and ransomware. The damage malware can cause varies but may include breaching of personal data or corruption of a device. Malware finds its way to your device through a variety of channels. Navigating to a website that contains malware or clicking harmful links on either a website or in an email are two of the most common.
Protecting Yourself Against Hackers this Holiday Season
Online hackers continuously seek out more sophisticated ways in which to illegally access consumer data. Because of this, there is no way to 100% guarantee your devices and information are safe. However, taking a few proactive steps when shopping online this season significantly lowers the risk of becoming a cyber victim.
Ensure Devices are Secure
When thinking about devices susceptible to cyber hacks, most people think of mobile phones and computers. However, any device connected to the internet can become a victim, including smart appliances and children’s toys. The first step to securing these devices is setting a unique and strong password. Even if a device came with a set default password, be sure to change that to something only you know in order to protect them once connected to the internet.
In addition to protecting the devices themselves, ensuring software is updated regularly also helps prevent hackers from finding security flaws. Enabling automatic software updates helps with this without you having to remember to manually update when new versions become available.
Be Careful Where You Shop
When it comes to shopping online, not all sites are created equal. In fact, many hackers meticulously create websites or landing pages that seem legitimate but are riddled with malicious links or data capturing, making those who visit them or complete a transaction vulnerable to a hack. Choose to browse and purchase from established retailers to avoid potentially putting your information at risk.
Additionally, look for sites with built-in encryption – specifically a secure sockets layer (SSL). Websites with SSL encrypt data prior to transmitting it through the web to the retailer. To spot sites with this enabled, look for URLs beginning with “HTTPS” and featuring a padlock symbol before the web address in your browser.
Lastly, be aware of potential scams even post-purchase. Some cyberattacks occur during the checkout process, but others come later. Those who’ve completed online transactions are likely familiar with the slue of post-purchase emails that follow. Hackers design these campaigns to get consumers to revisit the website and make further purchases. However, hackers sometimes imitate reputable retailers in campaigns of their own. They disguise their emails to make consumers think the sender is the company where they purchased their item. Before opening any emails or clicking on links within them, be sure to establish that they are indeed coming from who you think.
Northern Florida Cyber Security Professionals
Both individuals and businesses need to be aware of cyber security threats during the holiday season and beyond. Arming yourself or your business against security attacks involves knowing what threats exist and ways in which to avoid them. For businesses, maintaining a secure web presence isn’t just crucial for internal safety. It’s equally as important for the security of customer data that may be transmitted or stored within your network. A breach in data at that level affects hundreds or thousands (or more).
Some organizations have the capacity and infrastructure in-house to handle IT and cyber security on their own. For others, that responsibility is far too grand or outside the range of expertise within the company. In these cases, partnering with a local expert team of IT professionals is often the best way to get that peace of mind, knowing your company and client information is safe and secure.
The business-level cyber security solutions from Kustura Technologies monitor and protect your cybersecurity 24/7 to ensure you are always protected from any cyber threats. Contact us to discuss a security audit or our options for cyber security or other IT services. We would love to give you the peace of mind to grow your business, knowing your IT services are expertly managed.
Contact us today to take advantage of this offer and get your FREE Cybersecurity Assessment.