12 Days to a Safe Christmas: Day 11 – Is that Holiday Email Really a Lump of Coal?

Holiday Security Tips: On the eleventh day of Christmas, the experts gave to me, 11 private emails

During the holidays, we tend to spend more time online, searching for the perfect gift, swapping emails with friends, viewing festive holiday pictures, jokes and so on.  Cybercriminals know this and guess what?  They’re online more, too—looking for ways to lure you into scams to ruin your holidays and steal valuable information.   Here are just a few email scams to watch for:

Holiday e-card scams: Each year, more and more people are going the environmentally friendly and cost-effective route by sending holiday e-cards.  Cybercriminals, looking to install malicious software on your computer, may join in the fun and send you an e-card with an attachment to open.

Solution:  Resist your curiosity to see that adorable elf dance; only open attachments from trusted friends and family. If you don’t recognize the sender, don’t open the e-card. 

Holiday-related search term scams: We all like to be a bit more festive at the holidays, so we look for winter wonderland screensavers or our favorite carol for a ringtone.  However, these items may be disguised malware or spyware and you won’t feel so festive after it compromises and exposes the data on your computer.

Solution:  Make sure that you have protected your computer with automatically updated anti-virus software and operating system updates. As a rule of thumb, if you aren’t paying cash for a download, you might be paying by giving away your free information.

Fake invoice scams: Cybercriminals know that we tend to do a lot of holiday shopping online or through catalogs.  To try to trick you into giving credit card details or other valuable information, the criminals will send fake notices, either about delivery status or phony invoices that appear to be from legitimate companies (UPS, FedEx, USPS).  They might say they need to credit your account or you need to fill out a form in order to receive the package.  When you comply, your information and/or your computer may be compromised.

Solution:  Log onto the website of the company supposedly contacting you to track your packages or get a phone number to call and check on the action requested.

If you must peek inside a package, choose the shiny one underneath your Christmas tree.  Just don’t open those scary email links! On the twelfth day of Christmas…

To review our tips from previous days, click here.


About Cybersecurity Keynote Speaker John Sileo

John Sileo is the founder and CEO of The Sileo Group, a cybersecurity think tank, in Lakewood, Colorado, and an award-winning author, keynote speaker and expert on technology, cybersecurity, and tech/life balance. He energizes conferences, corporate trainings and main-stage events by making security fun and engaging. His clients include the Pentagon, Schwab, and organizations of all sizes. John got started in cybersecurity when he lost everything, including his $2 million business, to cybercrime. Since then, he has shared his experiences on 60 Minutes, Anderson Cooper, and even while cooking meatballs with Rachel Ray. Contact John directly to see how he can customize his presentations to your audience.