Cyber Monday Cyber Security in 60 Seconds

Cyber Thieves are officially out today to steal your credit card information or any other private personal information they can intercept as you shop online during Cyber Monday (and for the rest of the holiday season). In less that 60 seconds, you can know what they are up to and what to watch out for. Only 50 seconds left, so here they are (note: some of the “for more info” links will only become live over the next few weeks in our 12 Days of Christmas series, so please check back):

  1. Be extremely careful when using free Wi-Fi hotspots to shop online, as you are being watched by data sniffers.
  2. Only shop on secure, reputable websites that: A. You know via other means (the press; you shop at their store) B. Look for “https” in the URL, C. The website has a small padlock icon in the bottom right corner of your browser or the URL turns green, signaling a “safe” site.
  3. Shop, online or in person, with a credit card and not a debit card, because debit cards are riskier.
  4. Never offer more personal information to online stores than absolutely necessary (e.g., Social Security numbers, bank account numbers, passwords, PINs)
  5. Never use the same password across multiple websites, and do not use your name, pet’s name, birthdate, dictionary word or other easily guessed attribute as a password. Use a combination of letters, symbols and numbers and vary upper and lower case.
  6. Leave suspicious websites immediately (they ask for more information than normal, require you to double enter information or trigger your BS meter).
  7. Log out of your online accounts when you are not actively shopping, and password protect your smartphone, iPad and laptop in case they do go missing.
  8. Use automated account alerts to effortlessly monitor your credit card charges and bank balances, allowing you to catch fraud immediately.
  9. Only cyber shop on a non-public (e.g., not in a library) computer with a secure internet connection, updated anti-virus software and up-to-date operating system.
  10. Only donate to known charities and only when you have initiated the gift. Never send money (via check, cash or electronically) based solely on a wall post, email or phone call.  Respond to such correspondence by contacting the charity on a reputable phone number or website.
  11. (Bonus Tip #1) Resist your curiosity to see that adorable elf dance in an email, wall post or tweet; only open attachments from trusted friends and family. If you don’t recognize the sender, don’t open the holiday greetings, as it is probably malware trying to intercept your shopping credentials.
  12. (Bonus Tip #2) Check out our 12 Days to a Safe Christmas: Prevent Holiday Identity Theft for day by day tips on preventing identity theft while shopping.

If you take these 10 tips to heart, you will not only save yourself the stress of shopping in person, you won’t have to think twice about doing your holiday buying online.

When John Sileo isn’t shopping online for holiday gifts, he’s off speaking at conferences who are looking for highly relevant content delivered with humorous audience interaction. See video clips of John on stage and in the media.


3 replies
  1. Pandora
    Pandora says:

    Thanks for the article. We ALL need to be more proactive about our personal account security. In this day and age we need to take responsibility of our info. If you don’t trust the site don’t use it. . But one thing that can’t be stressed enough is taking advantage of the 2FA (2-Factor Authentication). Although it’s been around for a while, not enough sites are offering and promoting this option. And the even sadder fact is there are millions of people who are not taking advantage of this awesome functionality that is being offered to them by several sites. I really hope people and companies wake-up to the need to kick this complacent attitude about authentication and passwords. Take advantage of the 2FA which allows us to telesign into our accounts. I know some will claim this make things more complicated, but the slight inconvenience each time you log in is worth the confidence of knowing your info is secure. This should be a prerequisite to any system that wants to promote itself as being secure.

    • John Sileo
      John Sileo says:

      An excellent point! Yes, two factor authentication generally encourages crooks to move on to an easier target. The minor inconvenience is definitely worth the protection and peace of mind!

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