A Cybersecurity Alert has been issued by the FBI and Department of Homeland Security ahead of Thanksgiving. Cybercriminals are always looking for new ways to steal holiday gifts, and this is one of the most popular times to do it – according to a recent study by IBM. Cybercriminals will use social engineering tactics like phishing emails and malware-laden websites that lead unsuspecting shoppers to give up their credit card information or personal information. Cybersecurity experts recommend being vigilant about how you shop, what data you share online, what applications you download on your smartphone or other devices, as well as being cautious with any unsolicited email attachments that could contain malicious code. The United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) recommends a number of Cybersecurity best practices to protect you and your family during the holiday season:
– Use a secure network – If possible, avoid using public Wi-Fi or logging into websites from public hotspots.
– Keep software up to date – Update all devices with security patches before connecting them to the Internet.
– Be cautious online – Never respond to unsolicited requests for personal information. Hover over shortened links in emails without clicking on them first as these can lead users directly into phishing scams that look legitimate but are really designed just to gather data like usernames and passwords.
– Disconnect after use– Turn off Bluetooth connections when not in use; they can be used by hackers who want to access your device(s).
– Be cautious with smartphones – Avoid using mobile payment apps, especially those that aren’t tied to major credit cards. Also, avoid connecting your device(s) to public wireless networks or hotspots without the use of a VPN (Virtual Private Network). This will provide encrypted communications and help protect against any data theft on open connections.
– Keep passwords strong– Use hard-to-guess passwords for all devices; create different passwords for each website you visit; never write down these passwords where they can be found by others; change them often. Cybersecurity experts recommend at least 12 characters long containing numbers, symbols, upper and lower case letters as well as some randomness thrown in like punctuation marks or spaces between words instead of a series of consecutive letters. Cybercriminals are very much aware that people tend to use the same passwords for multiple sites, so if they can crack one login with your personal information then it’s likely you will reuse the password on other accounts as well – giving them full access to all of those as well.
– Always be vigilant– Cybersecurity experts recommend regularly checking bank and credit card statements from all sources closely before Christmas rolls around; cybercriminals love exploiting holiday spending sprees both online at retailers like Amazon or in-person when someone is trying to buy gifts while out visiting family or friends during this busy time of year.
It’s important for everyone to keep their computer security up-to-date by installing operating system (OS) updates and antivirus software. Cybercriminals are always coming up with new ways to gain access to systems, so it’s important that these tools stay updated as well.
– Be vigilant about emails– Check all emails for uninvited attachments or links before clicking on them; never reply to unsolicited requests for personal information online including things like contest entries, surveys or other marketing prompts. Cybercriminals will use a number of tactics across social media sites to try and get you to click on links in their messages – even going so far as using images from your Facebook account albums in the body of an email trying to appear legitimate by making themselves look familiar right down to pictures inside your family photo album! Do not respond or react at all if you don’t recognize the sender.