derek smith - first businessThe COVID-19 pandemic has presented a variety of challenges to everyone — and worse, it has presented many opportunities for cyber criminals. With the holidays approaching, during the pandemic most of us will perform our holiday shopping from the safety of our homes. Adobe predicts that online sales this year will grow by 33% and estimates that online spending will top $3 billion in a 24-hour window compared to $2 billion in 2019(2). With this online shopping surge, it is important, now more than ever before, to be vigilant while shopping online.

Here are some tips and recommendations to enjoy your holiday shopping while keeping your personal and financial information secure:

  1. Don’t use the same password for all your accounts. If one of these accounts is breached, all your accounts are at risk.
  2. Verify the site is using https, which provides a secure connection to the site and protects your sensitive information.
  3. Keep an eye on the website address for Cybersquatting.3 Cybersquatting is the process of mimicking a legitimate site. For example, let’s say you receive an email for a sale on amazon.com. You click the link in the email, and it takes you to amaz0n.com instead of amazon.com where a cyber criminal is waiting to harvest your credit card information.
  4. Examine emails offering sales very carefully to ensure they are authentic. Phishing, a cyber-attack disguised as a legitimate email, is one of the leading causes of cyber security breaches. “Spear phishing is responsible for 95% of all attacks on enterprise networks.”(4)
  5. To minimize your liability, use a credit card or a pre-paid debit card to shop online where possible. The Fair Credit Billing Act protects consumers from fraudulent charges of more than $50. “In the event that your digital information becomes compromised, you can rest assured that you’re protected against fraudulent charges.” (2)
  6. Keep your antivirus software up to date.
  7. As always, check your bank and credit card statements regularly for fraudulent charges and avoid connecting through public Wi-Fi while shopping online.

  Sources:

  1. https://blog.paloaltonetworks.com/2020/11/u42-cybersecurity-tips-safer-holiday-shopping/
  2. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2020/11/30/holiday-shopping-cybersecurity-tips/?sh=5aa33e53f841
  3. https://unit42.paloaltonetworks.com/cybersquatting/
  4. https://www.keepnetlabs.com/phishing-statistics-you-need-to-know-to-protect-your-organization/