It’s that time of year again. The weather is getting colder, Starbucks has changed from pumpkin to peppermint and Christmas decorations are lining the stores (it’s only November, but that’s an argument for another day). As people are recovering from Thanksgiving, many are expected to shop online this Cyber Monday.
Cyber Monday is one of the most anticipated shopping days of the year, and it is imperative that consumers shop smart and keep cybersecurity at the top of their minds.
Here are a few ways people can protect their personal information this holiday season:
Be Wary of Unknown Links
This is said time and time again, and people are tired of hearing this advice. The problem is even the most careful individuals can fall victim to this age-old trick, because over the years attacks have become more sophisticated.
These links can be hidden in:
- Advertisements on social media
- Unsecured websites.
Whether it is an advertisement or sponsored post on social media or a link in an email, always take the time to open a new tab and type the website directly into the URL bar. That includes links in emails from friends and family members as well.
There are two important factors when it comes to URL’s that people need to be aware of:
- Subdomain vs. Domain
- HTTP vs. HTTPS protocol
But before the differences can be explained, it is important to understand the components of a URL. Doepud has a great breakdown on this topic that can be accessed here.
A URL is made up of several parts, the most common being the protocol, subdomain, domain, and path as seen below.
You should always make sure that https is at the beginning of a retailers URL.
Check Out as a Guest
When checking out, check out as a guest. Do not sign in using email, social media or other methods. If PayPal is an option, use that in order to limit the amount of personal information you are putting out there.
Set up alerts through your bank and make sure you are monitoring your accounts regularly for any suspicious activity. Beware of any phone calls regarding fraudulent activity that require you to provide additional information, such as social security number, bank account information or date of birth, to confirm it is you. This is called social engineering, a deceptive method used to get people to divulge confidential and personal information for fraudulent purposes.
Good luck and remember to remain alert and shop smart!