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By Mary Swiderski
Holidays come with various opportunities for cyber scrooges to exploit. While everyone prepares for the festivities, cybercriminals look for opportunities to scam holiday shoppers with various tricks. Hence the name fraulidays: fraud + holidays!
Here are some quick tips to secure your online accounts and keep them safe during the holiday season:
Every time you “reuse” a password for online shopping, email accounts, social media profiles and even medical sites, you’re increasing your personal risk. If a hacker finds out one password that you use on multiple sites, they can quickly gain access to all the sites that use the same login credentials.
Using unique passwords can get confusing, and sometimes it can feel impossible to remember them all yourself. Try using a password manager to take the burden off your memory and keep multiple login credentials stored safely.
Think twice before you link your social media accounts, like Facebook and Instagram, to each other. If all your accounts are linked together, you can increase a hacker’s ability to steal your information.
This feature makes it hard for a hacker to gain access to your accounts. Two-factor authentication is defined by needing one thing from multiple categories in order to successfully log in - so entering two different passwords would not be considered multi-factor. These are the three categories: Something you know (like a password or PIN), something you have (like a smart card), or something you are (like your fingerprint).
Be skeptical of emails or texts claiming to be from companies or charities with peculiar asks or messages. Instead of clicking on a link within the email or text message, it's best to go straight to the company's website or contact customer service.
Cyber scrooges take advantage of peoples' generosity during the holiday season. Knowing that many people enjoy making donations during this time of year, cybercriminals will likely pose as a charity online as a ploy to collect financial data and money from unsuspecting users. Be extra careful and research the charity before you provide your personal information and donation.
The holidays are an easy time to scam people by creating enticing ads on social media, sending emails with amazing offers, and even texting “free gift" offers. If you see an ad or receive a suspicious email, don’t click it. If it is a vendor you are familiar with, visit the site directly to see if the deal is real.
Since many people do holiday shopping online, users should also beware of shipping notification scams. Many people have fallen victim to these scams throughout the year.
Learn more ways to protect yourself online:
Mary Swiderski is a security analyst on the information security team. She started her career with a local real estate company within their IT department back in 2008 and has since moved into the more specialized area of governance, risk management and compliance at Alliant. At a young age, her father inspired her to never stop learning and to not be satisfied with a career she didn’t love, so she found her home in information security with Alliant in 2017.
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