8 Cybersecurity Tips to Help You Stay Secure This Holiday Season

The holiday season is pretty much the busiest time of the year. As you are making travel arrangements or buying gifts for your loved ones online, cybercriminals are also busy crafting clever ways to take advantage of you.

It’s no news that cyberattackers are notorious for weaponizing global events, and the holiday season is no exception. Usually, we tend to lose our guards and give cybersecurity a backbench in the race to get the most out of the festivities. While a little indulgence can be excused, you should also take precautions to avoid hacks and breaches that may end your holidays abruptly. The good news is that you can prevent these bad cyber actors from ruining your holiday season with proper preparation. We’ll show you just how in a few.

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Why Do Cases of Cyberattacks Increase During Holiday Seasons?

As we pointed out earlier, this is usually one of the busiest times of the year. The festivities are synonymous with an influx in online traffic as several people opt for online purchases to evade long queues in the malls and shopping centers. We can expect these numbers to be even higher this year, given pre-existing COVID-19 conditions. As is the nature of hackers, they follow the flocks. So, it’s only natural that we’ll be witnessing increased cyberattacks around online shopping and card payments during these festivities.

Besides, we tend to be less cybersecurity conscious at this time of the year. If your IT staff are not on leave, they could just show up as a routine or to pick holiday gift vouchers.

Here’s the thing — you can still have fun without jeopardizing your data security during these festivities. The trick is to implement responsive cybersecurity measures.

What Are the Top Cybersecurity Tips You Can Use to Stay Safe During Holiday Periods? Here are our top 8 tips to help you and your users stay safe online during this holiday season:

  • Be Careful When Using Public Wi-Fi: Most restaurants and public utilities will be offering free Wi-Fi to attract customers during this festive period. Before leaving your house,  turn off Auto-connect to prevent your device from automatically joining public Wi-Fi. If you must use public Wi-Fi, protect your device with a secure VPN connection. This is the only way to prevent bad cyber actors within the Wi-Fi network from tracing your traffic and spoofing your credentials.
  • Do Not Use Corporate Devices to Perform Personal Tasks: Several companies have allowed workers to carry company devices home. We know that these gadgets have better internet connectivity and can help them secure that ‘landmark festivity offer’ as their home devices are still buffering. Or, maybe it’s the lure to use corporate emails to claim discounts after using their accounts. However harmless the transaction may be, DO NOT use company gadgets for personal tasks. It exposes your organization’s systems to more threats in less-secure environments.
  • This Is the Time to Take PCI DSS Seriously: You are probably already feeling the impact of increased card payments. Are you well equipped to protect the cardholder information you are entrusted with by your clients? Credit card fraud is tremendously growing, and I’m sure you wouldn’t want to add to these numbers. Re-evaluate your PCI compliance status and correct any identified flaws immediately.
  • When the Deal Is Too Good, it Could Be ‘Too Good to Be True’: While it’s true that the season of good cheer always comes with crazy discounts and offers, some may be too good to be true. For instance, why would a Christmas tree vendor offer a 90% discount just when their goods have the most demand during Christmas? Cross-check the veracity of the offer before making any payments. Also, be on the lookout for unnecessary urgency; most fake offers try to get their victims to pay in the shortest time possible.
  • Frequently Check Your Financial Account Status: The earlier you can identify a glitch, the less the impact. Always check your accounts for any suspicious activities. And if you identify or suspect anything fishy, inform your bank manager.
  • Beware of Unsolicited Messages: This is the time of the year when you receive several random emails, texts, or calls informing you that you need to claim your gifts, vouchers, or offers. Remember one thing; genuine institutions don’t ask for your credentials or demand that you pay to access your winnings.
  • Do Not Click Links and Attachments from Unknown Sources: You’ve probably heard this a million times, links from unknown sources could be dangerous. The bad news is that an alarming number — 50% — of workers still open links even if they look suspicious. You could have been lucky all this while, but tomorrow may not be your lucky day. Instead of exposing your network to malware and phishing attacks, you can instead hover the mouse over the link to see the site’s details. One mistake of this nature can encrypt all your files and cost your business millions in ransom, lost revenue, and recovery costs.
  • Do Not Use the Same Password for All Accounts: If you must use a single-sign-on, back it up with multi-factor authentication.  For your emails, however, the best option is to use a different and more complex password. This is because a hacker who can access your email can also access most of your other online accounts and even change passwords to lock you out.

Above all, vigilance is the key to staying safe from cyber-attacks, whether it’s during the holiday season or any other time of the year. Your go-to Southeast Texas IT company — Discovery I.T. — is always ready to help you out.

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