How to Protect Yourself From Cyber Crime During the Holiday Season

Be careful when sharing credit card information online. (Image: pixabay / CC0 1.0)
Be careful when sharing credit card information online. (Image: pixabay / CC0 1.0)

The popularity of online shopping has attracted hordes of cybercriminals on the lookout for security vulnerabilities that can be used to steal financial information and wealth. According to security researchers Carbon Black, the 2017 holiday shopping season saw a 57 percent increase in cyber-attacks.

With Christmas fast approaching, the criminals are expected to increase their frequency of attacks. Most companies will be understaffed during the Christmas holiday. Hence, cybercriminals can break into networks for illegal activities with fewer chances of being spotted. As a customer, you must be very vigilant of suspicious online activities during the holiday shopping season.

Internet security measures

When checking out shopping offers through emails, go through the textual content and watch out for misspelled words and any weird URLs. These things are a strong indicator that the email might be malicious. For instance, a URL to Amazon.com might be listed as “Aamazon.com.” Never open such URLs. If there are any attachments in the email with the message urging you to download them to explore “exciting offers,” never click those attachments.

Avoid shopping using a public Wi-Fi. (Image: pxhere / CC0 1.0)

Always make sure the shopping site you visit has a secure SSL internet protocol. Such websites can be identified with a URL that starts with “https” instead of “http.” They will also have a padlock sign on the browser to indicate that the site is safe and secure for shopping.

Some emails will directly ask financial information for new offers. Such messages typically try to mimic a well-known business. They might even contain a phone number of the CEO that you can call to confirm whether the offer is genuine or not. Keep in mind that no CEO of any consumer goods company is going to give out their number so that users can call them and buy their products. Never fall into such traps no matter how attractive the discounts look.  

As far as possible, avoid shopping on public Wi-Fi connections. Only shop from your home or office using your private and secure internet network. Using public Wi-Fi hotspots in gyms, hotels, restaurants etc. can allow hackers present in the region to access your device and steal personal details.

Above all, remember to change passwords at regular intervals. If possible, arrange a two-factor authentication to access your devices and information regarding finances. This will provide better protection for your private info.

While there might not be much of a difference between discounts offered by online retailers during special sales and normal days, they do offer better discounts than offline retailers. (Image: pixabay / CC0 1.0)

As far as possible, avoid shopping on public Wi-Fi connections. Only shop from your home or office using your private and secure internet network. (Image: pixabay / CC0 1.0)

Mobile app security measures

Never ever use shopping apps downloaded from third-party sites. Go to official app stores of Google or Apple to download the shopping app. Third-party app stores usually ask for several types of permissions and access privileges that might end up compromising the device password and credit card info.  

Many shopping apps offer to save your credit card information to provide for easier checkouts. In a way, this is a good thing since you can avoid typing in your credit card details every time you shop, thereby reducing the chances that they might get stolen by a hacker. However, do keep a very close watch on credit card statements to check for any unauthorized transactions.

Finally, log out from your shopping apps when you are done using them. Keeping it logged on only increases the chance that a hacker might access the account.

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