Cyber attacks are not a holiday-only disturbance to your online identity and overall feeling of well-being. How to protect yourself from holiday hackers is something we talk with our clients about all the time.
Believe us, when you’ve suffered identity theft or a ransomware attack – you feel violated. Some people liken it to having their homes broken into and we agree.
The software hackers use today to get into your computer, hijack your credit card and place ransomware into your computer gets more sophisticated with every passing day. Clicking on an ad you see in social media could lead to a spoofed site (one that looks like the site you wanted, but isn’t). If you click on a link in an email from your bank or from a store you typically shop with, you could be redirected to a malicious site that will steal your identity once you type in your user name and password. NEVER click on a link you receive in your email. If it’s from your bank, go directly to the bank’s URL and log in there.
How To Protect Yourself From Holiday Hackers
We’ve seen an increase in messages from “PayPal” stating “your account has been suspended because of suspicious activity… click this link to verify your identity.” Once you click the link and enter your information you have opened the door to a hacker who will drain your account. In many cases you can use the drop down menu to see where the “PayPal” email is really coming from and you will usually notice it is NOT from PayPal at all.
Here are other ways to protect yourself this holiday season and year-round.
- If the site you’re shopping on allows you to use a virtual wallet – do that. A virtual wallet means your credit card information is encrypted and not shared when you make a purchase.
- As mentioned, go to the “source” at which you want to shop or bank. Don’t follow a link.
- Don’t open any attachments you receive – even if it seems like it’s a funny cat video from a friend. It could be a phishing scam.
- If the retailer at which you’re shopping has an app – use that to shop.
- Use strong, and long, passwords. Use passphrases. Make certain your passwords are not relevant to you or your life in any way. For example, don’t put in your pet’s or children’s names or the address of the first street you lived on. Use something that makes no sense. For example, look around you and type in the names of three to five things you see: coffeecupglassesheatercattypewriter Is anyone going to hack that? Probably not – it’s nonsense! To make it even harder, swap letters for numbers or symbols. Add spaces if it’s allowed. Use a password manager to help you remember the log ins.
- Never give your credit card information to someone who has called you on the phone to “confirm a purchase.” A retailer will not do that.
- Don’t respond to emails that want to “double check” your mailing address.
- Sign up for credit monitoring or sign up through your credit card to receive alerts if the card is used.
You may not be able to avoid all identity theft or protect yourself from hackers BUT if you follow all these steps we’ve outlined you are certainly on your way to a safe, identity-theft and hacker free holiday.
WareGeeks Solutions is a Roselle, New Jersey-based complete IT consultant and solutions provider. We specialize in 360 Protect Data Now managed services, Data Protection, Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery (#BCDR). We work with law firms, real estate and property management professionals and in the healthcare industry. If you have IT or security questions contact Seth at WareGeeks Solutions. For information or a consultation, call (877) 653-7146, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. www.waregeeks.com