Cybersecurity Tips for Safe Holiday Shopping

Online shopping can be so convenient for the holidays, especially when you can take advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals from the comfort of your own home this time of year. However, many scammers are aware of how many people use online shopping, and they are out in full force this time of year. This article offers some helpful cybersecurity tips for safe holiday shopping. If you’re not sure how to accomplish some of the things on this list, enlist a friend or family member who is more tech savvy or look into computer classes in your area. 

  • Install security software. Installing cybersecurity software on your computer, smartphone, or other devices you may use is a great way to protect yourself. Often, this is as simple as visiting an app store or updating an existing program. However, don’t click internet pop-up ads offering new security features as they can often carry malware, which is designed to disrupt, damage or gain unauthorized access to your computer system. 
  • Adjust your browser settings. It’s also a good idea to regularly clear your browser history on all your devices and adjust your browser settings for the best possible security. 
  • Always log out. Although it can be convenient to stay logged in to certain websites, this leaves your more vulnerable. Always log out of apps, programs, and websites when you’re done using them. 
  • Avoid sharing your location. Many apps will ask your permission to share your location. This may be appropriate for something like Google Maps, but it’s not necessary in every situation, and definitely not if you don’t recognize the company. You should also never give anyone online your address, location, or other personal information online. 
  • Strengthen passwords. We get it, passwords are hard to remember, but they’re your first line of defense against scammers hacking into your account. Make sure you’re using strong passwords, different ones for each site or app, and avoid easily guessable passwords like addresses or birthdays. 
  • Don’t click unknown links. Clicking links or downloading attachments is a tactic scammers often use to steal your personal information. If you’re not sure where a link or attachment is coming from, do not click the link. 
  • Set up two-factor authentication. Two-factor authentication is an extra step that can help protect you from scammers and hackers, and it’s common in many apps and websites now. It essentially requires you to use two different forms of identification to log in, often when you try to log in from a new device. One example is if you try to log in to Facebook on a new computer, it may require you to put in a code sent to your phone. This extra step can be a little aggravating, but it can help protect you. 
  • Ask for help. Because these steps can be so beneficial, it bears repeating that if you’re not sure how to do any of these steps, ask a trusted friend or family member for help. Additionally, if something feels suspicious or out of the ordinary, ask someone else’s opinion before you proceed.