The holidays are a magical time of the year. Cyber Monday gives us the opportunity to surprise friends and family with special gifts at a fraction of the cost. The best part is, you don’t need to leave the comfort of your home (or office) and fight the crowds.

security eye personal infoMany retailers have taken security precautions to avoid the physical dangers associated with Black Friday. Big retail chains even hire extra security personnel to make sure customers can shop safely. Do you know if your favorite retailers take similar precautions on Cyber Monday?

According to CNBC, Cyber Monday sales broke a record in 2018 with $7.9 billion spent online. That’s an incredible number of people sharing personal and banking information. How can you make sure you’re not an easy target for hackers? We’ve put together a list of cybersecurity tips to help keep you safe through the entire holiday shopping season.

1. Be Critical of Email Deals

Email marketing is still one of the main avenues businesses use to promote deals and products. If you’ve opened your email at all in November, you’ve probably seen a subject line or two announcing a BIG CYBER MONDAY DEAL!!!. Before you open the email, make sure you can identify the sender and that the email address looks legitimate. Phishing attacks are among the most common types of cyberattacks we experience as cybersecurity professionals at High Touch. Hackers also use “last minute” deals to instigate users. Click carefully.

2. Avoid Emails With Attachments

If a hacker can get into your system, they can eventually find a way to get their hands on any file they want. One of the most common ways hackers gain access to devices is through email attachments. Harmful files can easily be disguised as an exclusive Cyber Monday coupon or secret best customer deal. Avoid downloading email attachments unless you personally know the sender and you’re expecting the attached file.

3. Research Deals With Retailers

If you receive an exclusive Cyber Monday deal, odds are favorable that other customers have too. Do your research. Browse the retailer’s website to see if they’re advertising that specific deal. When in doubt, contact the retailer’s customer service department to verify the deal using the contact information provided on the retailer’s website.

4. Update Your Browser

Browsers require consistent security updates to keep you protected from the latest cyberthreats. If you’re using an old, outdated browser, you’re not protecting yourself against recently developed cyberattacks. Verify you’re using the most recently released version of your preferred browser before you start your online holiday shopping spree.

5. Verify You’re Using a Safe Connection (HTTPS)

When you navigate to a retailer’s website, make sure the URL begins with https. Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) ensures the website has a valid Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate and that the information you provide is encrypted. Encryption makes it difficult for hackers to tamper with or steal the information that you’re communicating.

6. Use Strong Passwords

In general, it’s recommended that you use strong, unique passwords for your online accounts. If you’re using simple passwords or reusing passwords, hackers can quickly gain access to your digital information, including bank accounts, business accounts, files, and personal information. High Touch recommends using an extensive combination of letters, numbers, and symbols when creating passwords. When in doubt, use a password manager with multifactor authentication to manage your account information.

7. Avoid Public Wi-Fi

We strongly discourage sharing personal information, including online shopping data, over public Wi-Fi connections. Generally, these connections have weak security precautions and allow hackers to steal your information as its being transmitted.

8. Use Credit Cards, Not Debit Cards

Credit cards offer an extra layer of protection when you’re shopping online. Unlike debit cards that are directly linked to your bank account, credit cards usually offer greater protection in case your account is compromised. Also, you won’t have to worry about a stolen credit card number affecting your personal checking account for the entire holiday shopping season.

9. Verify Your Account Statements

After the holiday season, verify that account statements match your purchase activity. If you notice any unknown transaction activity, report it immediately.

We Keep Your Business Safe.

High Touch offers cybersecurity solutions, including firewalls, endpoint protection, email security, and consulting services. Contact us to learn how High Touch can help keep your business safe.

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