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​10 Ways to Stay Cybersecure This Cyber Monday

While Cyber Monday jumpstarts the economy, it also kicks cybercrime into high gear. Hackers are more than aware of consumers' vulnerabilities to coupons, sales, and holiday e-cards, and such vulnerabilities are easily exploited if safety precautions are not taken. Cybersecurity is more important on Cyber Monday than any other time of the year— stay cyber aware with these tips!

10 Ways to Stay Cybersecure This Cyber Monday

1.   Avoid Spear Phishing Emails

One tactic spear phishers are using this year is fake package delivery notices. If you receive a delivery notice, be sure to go to the store's website and track the package directly. Other spear phishing techniques include fake greetings/holiday cards involving specific names of people you may know. Unless you're expecting a greeting card, think twice before opening. Additionally, avoid trouble by verifying any coupons directly on store's site and don't click on any coupons received in your inbox. 

2.   Create a Separate Email Account for Shopping
On the subject of spear phishing, one of the best ways to protect yourself is to create an entirely new email account for the sole purpose of online shopping. Spear phishing attempts will be easier to avoid, as you'll know no one in your personal or work life is trying to contact you or send e-cards. Additionally, personal information may be more difficult to obtain should the email account be hacked and your day-to-day inbox won't be flooded with advertisements.  

3.   Beware of Phishing Websites
Double check any typos before searching the web for shops, as many hackers make convincing fake sites based on commonly-made typos. Another way to double-check the authenticity of a site is to hover over any suspicious hyperlinks to reveal its true destination and double-check URLs. A safe bet is to avoid pages that seem even remotely fake and customize Internet browsers with anti-phishing toolbars.  

4.   Hang Up on Social Engineering Calls
During Cyber Monday, attacks on system vulnerabilities are far less common than hackers targeting user behavior. A particularly common social engineering method this year is the use of phone scams. These scams include calls saying your credit card is compromised, or you've won a deal at a store, or that there's a credit or loan discrepancy. Do not reply to the call or give the caller any information, instead double check your finances by hanging up and contacting your bank directly.  

5.   Use Unique Passwords for Each Website 
Creating different user passwords for each website shopped through is the most secure way to online shop. The use of a password manager tool makes tracking multiple passwords and usernames easy. Be sure to create strong passwords including uppercase and lowercase letters, permitted symbols, and numbers. Use a two-step verification system whenever possible and do not use the same password for multiple accounts.  

6.   Use a Credit Card instead of a Debit Card
Should your card information be compromised, and money be taken from your account, any reimbursement may take time. If one's debit account has been compromised then hackers gain access to your entire bank account. Credit card users are protected by the Truth in Lending Act, which states the card-owner is not liable for debts due to unauthorized transactions if you report your card lost or stolen. To help protect your card information, check out as a guest whenever possible when shopping and do not let the site save your card information. 

7.   Monitor Bank Statements
Fraudulent charges start out small, often for charges $10 and lower, as hackers attempt to confirm access. The charges begin small because hackers rely on account-owners to overlook small charges, especially on joint accounts. Protect yourself by frequently checking your statements line by line to be sure your accounts have not been breached. 

8.   Protect your Internet of Things
Automated coffee-makers, ovens, and other kitchen appliances connected to Wi-Fi networks are easily hackable if not adequately protected. Be sure to replace the passwords of new machines with more secure passwords (See Tip 5, above). Equipped with a more secure password, you can protect your device from becoming part of a botnet

9.   Use a VPN When Shopping Out 
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) protect users from hackers who create fake free Wi-Fi networks. Should a user log in to one of these hacker-owned networks, hackers can obtain personal information and login information from your device.  Use a VPN while out of the house to shop safely. 

10.  Regularly Update Your Software

Pop-ups claiming your Adobe Flash Player is out of date and in need of update are often attempts to trick shoppers into downloading infectious imposters onto their computers. Updating your software regularly will make insidious downloads easier to avoid.

When you shop this Monday, shop with care. Happy Holidays from the NC4 Team and stay safe! To check out our cybersecurity solutions, visit us here.   


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