Makamba Online has put together the following cybersecurity tips to help you focus on family, food and fun over during this season.
As the popularity of online shopping increases, so does the likelihood of falling foul of cybercrooks, not necessarily because they are putting in extra effort during the festive season, but simply because more of us are doing more online shopping at this time of the year, and we are on the lookout for the hottest deals.
- Use different and complex passwords
Don’t use the same password on more than one website. If the crooks get one password, they will immediately try it on all your other accounts. Make your passwords as long and complex as you can; in fact, consider using a password manager, which will come up with a unique password for each website automatically.
- Update your devices
When patches come out, most of them fix security holes that the crooks either already know about or will find out about soon. Don’t put off security updates because “later will be fine”. Follow our advice: patch early, patch often.
- Beware of login links in emails
With so many emails flying around over the festive shopping period, it’s a popular time for cybercrooks to use fake ‘phishing’ emails to trick you into handing over personal data. When an email urges you to click on a link to login to your account and change your password, or some similar sort of subterfuge, it’s probably crooks trying to trick you onto a fake site that will look exactly like the real thing, except that the crooks get your password, not the real website. If you want to check a transaction on one of your accounts, open your browser and browse to the website yourself.
- Watch out for bogus courier emails
During this time, you may very well get products delivered to your home, so you will be expecting a visit from a courier company. Crooks know this and send fake emails about bogus delivery problems, hoping to draw you into their web. If you want to contact a courier company to check on a delivery, look up their phone number or email address yourself – don’t use any links or information from an email.
- Look for the padlock in the URL bar when shopping online
A padlock in the address bar and a URL that starts with “HTTPS” means the website uses an encrypted or secure connection. All major websites, not just financial institutions, use HTTPS these days, so if you see a site that’s asking for personal information but doesn’t have the padlock, you can be sure it’s a fake.
- Back up your files
Whether you are taking your laptop on holiday, or staying at home with your faithful desktop this festive season, don’t forget to back up your precious documents on all of your devices. That way if your files are lost, stolen, “reconfigured” by a teenaged “expert”, or, worst of all, held for extortion by ransomware, you can still get your data back.
- Watch out for modified ATMs
Watch out for modified ATMs when you withdraw money. Crooks often glue fake parts onto or around ATMs in the hope of covertly reading both your card data and your PIN. If you see an ATM with any components that look as though they don’t belong, report it to the bank and the police. That way you protect yourself and everyone else too.
- Don’t email your credit card details
Sometimes you will try to buy that special gift, but your credit card won’t go through. In perfectly good faith, the seller may ask you to email through your card details to try again later. But that email could end up in the hands of cybercrooks, even if the seller handles it with care once they have received it. Remember: if in doubt, don’t give it out!
- Change default passwords before using any new home video devices
Whether it’s a new baby monitor, home surveillance system, or any other internet-enabled camera, it probably has a default password. If you don’t change the password, then you are making it easy for a cybercriminal to hack in and watch whatever you are filming. That could be you, your house, your baby, or something else that you would prefer to keep away from prying eyes.
And remember, when 2018 comes around, all of these tips will still be valid. In other words, as much as we are urging you not to let your computer security guard down over the festive season, we are also encouraging you to keep your security guard up every day. Cybersecurity is for life, not just for this season.
Author: Gesture Chidhanguro