Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Cybersecurity During the Holidays

It's that time of year again -- for mistletoe and shopping -- not necessarily in that order. And, rather than fight the cold and snow, which has come back in force around the US, shopping online saves time and aggravation on the roads.

Here are some tips, none of which are new, from SecureWorks for shopping online safely. They're all variations on the theme of watching out for ways malware can be dumped on your system.

  1. Be wary of holiday gift cards and holiday coupon offers sent via e-mail—these often have malicious links within the offer which lead to downloads of info-stealing Trojans or the hackers try to scam you out of your bank account information.
  2. When visiting your favorite online retailer to purchase gifts, be sure to type the actual Web site address of the retailer into your browser. Do not follow links provided by e-mail offers or pop up ads. Many times these are fraudulent sites made to look like the legitimate retail sites.
  3. When making online purchases, always use a credit card that limits your fraud liability. Avoid using debit cards to do online purchases when possible so as to limit your personal exposure to any possible fraudulent transactions.
  4. When making online purchases, always look at your Web browser for the https (as opposed to http) protocol that proceeds a Web address. The “s” let’s you know that the Web site is providing a layer of security for transmitting your personal information over the Internet.
  5. Be wary of unsolicited e-mails, even from senders that you know, that include links or attachments. Before clicking on links or attachments, ALWAYS verify that the correspondent sent you the e-mail and enclosed link or attachment.
  6. Be wary of e-mails notifying you that your banking certificate or token is out of date and to download a new certificate or token. Before taking any action, verify with your financial institution by calling them on a number that is not provided in the email.
  7. Avoid using simple (weak) or default passwords for any online site.

Have a safe and Happy Holiday Season!

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