By Rachel Newman
The holidays are upon us and that means that many of us will start trolling the internet for the best deals we can find. This is great news for retail stores and bargain hunters, but there is a sect that should be wary: the uninformed.
This week I spent a great deal of time on the phone with grandma. Though that time is usually enjoyed, this conversation was particularly painful. My grandma had received a holiday shopping email which turned out to be a phishing email, and she had clicked on a bad link.
She looked to me for the next steps: We changed the password to her email account, and then moved on to the passwords of all other bank accounts and credit cards. And then, naturally, I emailed her a safe link to one of my past blogs on cybersecurity.
I am writing this blog as a plea to all who plan to find the best deal online this holiday season: remember that your online security is virtually (no pun intended) nonexistent if you don’t take the necessary precautions to protect yourself.
Here are the steps to take to ensure that all of your holiday purchases are fabulous and authorized by you and you alone. Happy hunting!
HTTPS is the new HTTP. If you want to remain safe online, make sure that any time you are asked to enter your personal or financial information, you are doing so on a website which has an address that begins with an https. This ensures extra security for your information.
None of these things are like the other. Try not to have identical passwords. If all of your passwords are different and equally complicated to guess, then you are at much lower risk of having your information stolen.
Hover-Round. Never click on a link unless you are sure that it is from a trusted source or that it leads to a website you recognize. If you want to verify the legitimacy of a link, use your mouse to hover over it without clicking. If it leads to something you don’t recognize than it is best not to click.
Don’t open a suspicious email. If you receive an email in another language or an email that doesn’t make sense, don’t open it. Set up your email to show previews of your mail before you open it. That way you can check what you have received without endangering your cybersecurity.
If you believe you have been hacked, it’s not too late. Follow these steps to keep maintain your security:
Change your passwords. Don’t just stop at the password to your email. Change any passwords from accounts that also have your email address. You can never be too cautious.
Notify your contacts. Chances are, if you clicked on a phishing email, then the rest of your contacts have been sent an identical message by now. Send them a warning email with a title of “Disregard last message, my email account was hacked.”
For more information about cybersecurity and online shopping tips, visit BBB.org or call 858.496.2131.
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