The holiday shopping season is upon us and this means that cybercriminals are also revving up their engines and getting ready to take advantage of the ramp up in online transactions.

Whether at home, or at the office, it’s important to make sure you stay safe amidst the buying frenzy that the holiday brings. Taking steps towards cyber prevention can save you from the undesirable consequences of falling victim to a cyber attack.

So as you endeavor into the world of online shopping this season, keep these important tips in mind:

Before You Shop, Check Your Device For Updates

The bottom line is this – if your smartphone, computer or tablet is running outdated software, then it’s vulnerable. As inconvenient as sitting around waiting for a 10 minute update on your phone may be, the security benefits far outweigh the inconvenient wait time.

Vulnerabilities found in older device operating systems are a prime target for hackers. Updates patch these vulnerabilities. So what are you waiting for?

Before you fill your shopping cart with all those wonderful gift ideas, update your device and keep yourself safe.

If It’s An Email Link – Don’t Click It.

Yes, this can seem to be another inconvenience. Having to type in “oldnavy. ca” instead of clicking on the link in the email. But, it’s for your own protection.

Phishing scams are at an all time high and will most likely, if not already, land in an inbox near you. You click the link and what appeared to be a innocent email telling you about the latest holiday PJ sale, suddenly becomes a malicious attack that just infected you with a naughty unwanted gift.

So just avoid clicking the link for your own good. The last thing you want to start this holiday season with is a hacked bank account.

Don’t Save your Payment Details

Many online vendors will give you the option to save your payment information at checkout so the next time you shop, it’s just one less step you have to take. It may seem convenient, but it also comes with it’s own risks.

A hacker gets access to your device – it’s shopping time. The retailer suffers a data breach – your sensitive information is now leaked.

As a rule, the fewer databases you allow to store your personal information, the better your personal security posture.

Have fun shopping and head to the checkout, but say no to saving your payment information.

Only Shop At Sites That Use HTTPS

Without getting to technical, shopping at sites that use “HTTPS” simply means that the sites are encrypting the data that is transferred through the site, including your personal information. “S” means secure.

So if there is no “S” (the site is using only HTTP) then NEVER shop there. You can also tell if a site is secure when you see the little “lock” icon in front of the web address.

Make Sure the Site URL is Spelled Correctly

We all make typing mistakes form time to time, especially when using our smart phones. We accidently type walmartt . com, yet we still land on a valid website.

This is what you call a copycat site. Hackers will often buy domains that are very similar to well known retailers, banking on the fact that someone will eventually make the typo and land on their malicious website.

Don’t be fooled. Take a few seconds to double check your spelling so you can have peace of mind in knowing that you are shopping where you intended to shop.

Consider Public Wi-Fi A “No Shopping” Zone

Connecting to public WiFi is far from being a secure practice, so just don’t. It can leave your device vulnerable to hackers who are just waiting to spy on you and steal your information.

They simply focus their attention on people’s favorite Wi-Fi locations and wait for all those excited holiday shoppers to connect.

Don’t leave yourself exposed. Shop using your mobile carriers data instead.

Watch Out For Emails & Texts That Impersonate Brands

As mentioned above, phishing scammers are on the rise and are extremely active during the holiday season. During the 2021 holiday season there was a 397% increase in copycat domains connected to this type of attack.

Even though you need to be careful all year long regarding this type of scam, it’s even more important this time of year. People expect a ramp up in emails from there favorite retailers and hackers know this very well.

Hackers will copy the emails you expect to see from brands such as Walmart, UPS, Purolator and Amazon, embed them with malicious links and send them your way in hopes of tricking you into clicking the link.

So be on alert and, once again, this is another reason why it is always a good idea to go directly to the site instead of clicking the link.

Turn On Banking Alerts & Check Your Account Often

Make sure you check your bank account often. Take note of any suspicious transactions that could indicate that there has been a breach. You can help automate this process by turning on banking alerts in your online banking app.

How Secure Will You Be This Holiday Season?

Holiday shopping scams often lead to the deployment of malware. So you need to ask yourself – how secure am I? Be safe this holiday season and feel free to contact us for a security check-up.