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Maintain Your Cybersecurity during the Holiday Season

Get started on your cybersecurity degree at American Military University.

By Susan Hoffman
Contributor, InCyberDefense

The holiday season is here! Most stores and online businesses now offer tempting deals for important shopping days such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. But at the same time, that doesn’t mean you should relax your cybersecurity standards.

Watch Your Smartphone

Antivirus company McAfee notes that smartphones are a particular target for hackers. Be sure not to leave your smartphone unattended and double-check email links before you click on them.

If you’re downloading apps, use reputable marketplaces such as Google Play and Apple’s App Store. Check the app’s vendor information, investigate what permissions the app requests (the fewer, the better), check the user rating and read the reviews.

Also, limit your use of public Wi-Fi, which is not secure. If you must use public Wi-Fi, do not use it for financial transactions.

Increase Your Personal Cybersecurity Measures

Jaimes Badillo, an information security officer at South Dakota’s Great Western Bank, recommends additional security measures. Before you shop, increase the strength of your default security settings and create stronger passwords by using uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols.

Also, avoid using the same username and password for multiple sites if you’re setting up new accounts and limit the use of personally identifying information whenever possible. Although it may be hard to remember all of your usernames and passwords, this practice helps to keep your account safe from hackers.

Complex passwords can be stored in a password manager app such as LastPass. This app is available for use with various operating systems and browsers.

Be sure to perform the standard security checks before making any purchase. Watch for the “s” in the “https” of a web address and check for the padlock icon.

New Hampshire security company Global Sign advises using two-factor authentication (such as a one-time passcode sent via text). This type of cybersecurity is an extra line of defense, since a hacker who has your username and password would need the extra passcode to access your account.

The Best Holiday Cybersecurity Is Your Common Sense

The best form of protection for holiday shopping is your own common sense. Double-check website addresses for accuracy and pay close attention to unsolicited messages you receive.

For instance, some cybercriminals will use fake texts, pop-up messages or emails, telling you that your computer or mobile device has been infected or your bank account has been hacked. Their intent is to cause you to panic and take action without double-checking the link in the message. Before you take action, check with a reputable person such as a manufacturer or a financial representative.

Develop a healthy sense of skepticism when you encounter deals that seem too good to be true. Check all of the information about what you plan to purchases and be wary of unsolicited messages.

Have a safe, happy and secure holiday season!

Susan Hoffman is a Managing Editor at Edge, whose articles have appeared in multiple publications. Susan is known for her expertise in blogging, social media, SEO, and content analytics, and she is also a book reviewer for Military History magazine. She has a B.A. cum laude in English from James Madison University and an undergraduate certificate in electronic commerce from American Public University.

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