The holidays are a heightened time when cybercriminals are using clever phishing emails scams that look like special offers or shipping notices for gifts. When in reality, these are designed to snare clicks and make you hand over information. James Lyne, global head of security research, Sophos, is reminding consumers to pay extra attention to nine simple security steps to stay safe online during the holidays:
1. If an online deal or email offer with price discounts looks too good to be true, it probably is. Hit delete.
2. Be aware of untrusted wireless networks when you’re out shopping with your mobile phone. Consider waiting to enter your credit card information when you get home.
3. Only use trusted merchants to make online payments. Use PayPal or your credit card, not bank debit cards to purchase gifts online.
4. Be on the lookout for Typosquatting. Cybercriminals take a popular online brand and change one letter or two to trick you into clicking and sharing personal information.
5. IoT devices are sure to be on everyone’s list this year, but they are vulnerable to cybercriminals. Before you start using your newfangled device, reset the password. Some, as we’ve recently see with Dyn DDoS attack, are vulnerable to criminal-hacker hijacking.
6. Be sensible about password security. Make account passwords different and difficult to guess. Include upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols to make passwords harder to crack - refer to the Sophos How to Pick a Proper Password video for creating stronger passwords.
7. Cybercriminals intercept data with spyware more than usual during the holidays. Protect against all malware, including spyware, which logs your financial data while you type it into your keyboard, with security software like Sophos Home. Of 1250 consumers polled in the U.S., U.K., Germany, Switzerland and Austria in a recent Sophos survey, 54 percent perceive spyware as an extremely large cyber security threat. Thirty-one percent of those surveyed consider themselves unprotected, are not familiar with spyware or unsure if they’re protected.
8. Run up to date security software and check out the Sophos Home toolkit videos for tips on blocking spyware and all other malware, detecting and blocking malicious URLs and apps, which could contain ransomware, securing wifi, and ruling out phishy emails.
9. At a time of higher than normal e-commerce, criminals have a piqued interest in exploiting online activity. Consumers need to be extra vigilant to protect against cybercriminals who amp up their nefarious ways during the holidays. Be cyber aware and use best security practices.