10 Holiday Cyber Security Tips by EVA the Elf (with help from Megan Murphy!)
Hi, I’m EVA the Elf, and I know you’ve seen me lurking around your gifts and tree. But I’m here to talk about something more important: cyber security.
The holiday season should bring out the best in people. Time with family, crackling fireplaces and cookies in the oven are some of the first images of the holiday season that come to mind. But, hiding behind your screens are some not-so-fond memories, waiting to surprise you. I’m not talking about those pesky Thanksgiving calories…I’m talking about cybercriminals. Hackers, scammers, and fraudsters are everywhere and especially during the holidays. Those scrooges know this is the best time to attack…when you’re distracted with tinsel and treats!
I’m here because I don’t want you to end up like a reindeer in the headlights. So, I’ve come up with a list of my top 10 cyber security tips to keep you and yours safe and warm. I even wrapped it up tight for you!
Don’t use public Wi-Fi for shopping!
🎁 Try to only use your personal data while out, and turn off Wi-Fion your device(s) while in public.
Keep an eye on your credit and bank accounts during the holiday season.
🎁 Always report anything suspicious to the FTC or police. It’s easy to lose track when you start shopping, so be vigilant about your expenses.
Keep a lock on all devices.
🎁 Utilize either a fingerprint, face scan, or numerical lock depending on your device options! If you choose a numerical lock, make sure it isn’t something obvious like a birthday or phone number.
Update your passwords.
🎁 Before you travel, change or update any frequently used passwords to keep hackers out. Use multi-factor login options when available.
Avoid filling out email forms that ask for personal info.
🎁 Especially if the email is from someone you don’t know or barely know. Online forms are a way hackers can gather information on you – called “phishing”. Also, beware of questions you answer on social media too…people pose innocent questions but they’re actually looking for answers to security questions – “What was the name of your childhood pet?”
Beware of any texts with links even from companies you subscribe to or trust!
🎁 In this day and age, it’s very easy to make something look legitimate when it’s supposedly coming from a brand most people trust; but opening links through emails or text can lead to you downloading malware, or other phishing software and not even knowing!
Don’t use public USB cords or charge boxes.
🎁 There’s a rise in what the scammers are calling “Juice jacking” where you plug your device into a public charging station, and while you charge your phone with the provided cord, your information is transferred to a database with all of your login information, photos, and contact details! The worst part is that these cables look and feel just like regular cables, so there’s no way to know if it’s happening to you! Always charge with your own cords and try to limit charging to at home or in your car.
Use alternative payments whenever possible.
🎁 Third-party systems like PayPal or Venmo offer an added layer of protection that simply typing in your card details lack. Third-party payment systems are the “payer” instead of you when shopping online so your information never reaches the payee.
Shop only at websites that start with HTTPS://.
🎁 The “S” stands for secure! Websites that have an S at the end are secured by an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate. This lets you know that the website is safeguarding any sensitive data it comes in contact with.
Use a webcam cover.
🎁 It’s small, inexpensive, and necessary. Webcam covers are small plastic instruments with a sticky back to put over your device’s webcam. You simply slide the second piece open to show your camera and slide it back when you’re done so no one can see through the lens without your knowledge. They make great stocking stuffers!
Have a secure and happy holiday season from all of us at EVA.