The holiday season is well under way, and millions of shoppers are taking advantage of online promotions. While the retail bonanzas known as Black Friday and Cyber Monday are already behind us, online shoppers remain under threat from hackers.
According to a recent report released by US-based cyber security specialist Carbon Black, there was a 57.5 percent increase in attempted cyber attacks globally during the 2017 holiday shopping season – and they’re predicted to increase again this year.
When you think about the amount of financial and personal information shared during this time of year on the Internet, it’s no wonder hackers are employing new tactics. Their objective is to steal data and information to use and/or resell on the dark web, thus creating an illegal revenue stream for the hackers.
We tend to think phishing emails are the most common threat and that’s not completely wrong, but these aren’t the only threats we need to be aware of. There are many hackers out there ready to ruin our festive mood.
Awareness is the key to staying safe online
To combat these threats, it’s essential to be aware of the many pitfalls that present themselves on a daily basis. We’ve prepared a few hints and tips to help you stay safe online this holiday season.
1 – Protect your Passwords
The first rule is to protect your passwords. All you need to do is to change them regularly and make sure that you don’t use the same password everywhere – mix it up. In the event security is breached on one of your accounts, this will help you mitigate the risk and avoid seeing all of your accounts hacked.
2 – Phishing emails
If you think that you can’t be fooled by phishing emails because they’re easy to identify (for example grammatical mistakes and an unusual email address), you’re underestimating their determination and sophistication. In reality, cyber attackers are becoming increasingly sophisticated. In terms of design and wording, they can look exactly like famous brands. So when you receive an offer that looks too good to be true, always check on the official brand’s website – if it’s not on there, the email you received is highly unlikely to be legitimate.
In any case, keep in mind that retailers would never ask you to share financial or personal information by email. Moreover, you also need to be careful with attachments – you should always be able to preview an attachment before opening it. If the email doesn’t let you do this, don’t take the risk to click and open it, as this could activate a malware programme.
3 – Avoid Public WiFi
Whilst viewed as convenient, the problem with public WiFi is that anyone could be watching your activity. This type of WiFi often lacks security features, making it easy for hackers to penetrate the network. When shopping online, you’re sharing financial and personal information that you want to keep safe – you certainly don’t want it to be stolen. The best option is to shop on a private network, therefore significantly reducing the risk of foul play.
4 – Update your Security Features – On all your devices
We often underestimate the power of little things and, this might go without saying, but downloading the updates for your anti-virus, firewall and anti-malware could save your data. You should always make sure your security solutions are regularly updated on each of your devices so they’re not vulnerable. When security features are lacking, it makes it very easy for hackers to take advantage.
5 – Check your bank accounts and statements
Keep an eye on your accounts and purposefully check for any suspicious transactions. If any inaccuracies are spotted contact your bank immediately and report the fraudulent activity.
Following these basic yet highly effective tips will help to keep your personal and financial data safe whilst shopping online this holiday season. And remember, if a promotion looks too good to be true, it probably is. Remain vigilant and aware.
C8 Consulting has been working with Carbon Black for several years and we sustained nationwide and trade coverage in the press in their lead up to IPO. You can read more about how we create storylines that resonate in our Carbon Black case study.