Cyber security is probably the last thing on your mind as the mayhem of the holiday season approaches. Unfortunately, this is precisely what cybercriminals are counting on. The holidays offer an excellent chance for them to catch people off guard. Indeed, many major cyber attacks on businesses are carried out on the eve of holidays like Christmas and the Fourth of July weekend.
So, get your backup and disaster recovery plan in place, and take heed of the following six tips to ensure you, your devices, and your data remain safe.
1. Regularly check your credit card statements
Around the holidays, most people ramp up their spending at least a little bit. With more entries on your credit and debit card statements, it can be easy to miss fraudulent charges. Criminals know this, so if they’re able to fraudulently obtain your card details, they won’t necessarily try to drain your account. Instead, a common tactic is to take small amounts at a time. These can easily be missed among your other expenses, so you may not even notice the money being siphoned out.
To avoid this slow drip of stolen funds, track your expenses and periodically compare them to your credit and debit card statements to ensure everything lines up.
2. Use digital forms of payment
Many banks and credit card providers now offer you the ability to create digital cards for online purchases. These can be made in seconds, and after you’ve finished your shopping spree, you can simply delete the digital card you used. This means that even if criminals are somehow able to obtain your card details, they won’t be able to access your funds.
3. Don’t open links in emails or text messages
Though phishing scams are common all throughout the year, they tend to ramp up in the holiday season. Be on the lookout for text messages claiming that you need to click a link to receive an Amazon package. Scammers may also create fake messages and emails that look like they come from your bank, utility provider, or even the government.
The key thing to remember is that if a message is inspiring fear, greed, or curiosity, and it involves you clicking a link or downloading something, you need to take a breath and think before acting.
4. Don’t overshare on social media
Platforms like Facebook are a haven of valuable information for criminals. You’d be surprised at what they can glean from your page and the pages of your friends and family. Sensitive information like your date of birth can be found by scrolling to see when the birthday wishes roll in from your loved ones. Even passwords and the answers to security questions can often be guessed from information found on social media. Then, of course, many people reveal that their houses are unoccupied by posting holiday pics online.
5. Remember IT security never goes on holiday
If you’re closing your business over Christmas, make sure you still have IT support during this time. Cybercriminals often time their attacks to hit on public holidays as this gives them the best chance of going undiscovered.
6. Be careful of public wifi
Free public wifi is incredibly useful when you’re traveling and don’t want to burn through your data. However, you should be careful about which networks you trust and what you do when you’re connected. To be on the safe side, it’s best to avoid banking and shopping on public wifi.
Follow the tips above, remain vigilant this holiday season, and you should be able to side-step the cybercriminals and keep your devices and data protected.