While the Holidays are known as the “Season of Giving Gifts,” this time of year is quickly also becoming known as the “Season of Giving Away Personal Information.”
Cyber criminals strike when individuals and organizations are most vulnerable; whether it be W2 Forms and municipalities around tax season, academic institutions at the start of the school year, and now credit cards and ecommerce during the holiday shopping season.
The pandemic has forced small businesses along with big box retailers to pivot to online sales, forcing Americans to input sensitive personal and financial information into multiple websites.
To help keep your personal information off the cyber criminals’ wish lists, Graham Company has come up with a few recommendations:
- Use good judgement – Cyber criminals are becoming more sophisticated in their phishing attacks- utilizing flash sales, charity donations, holiday e-cards, or shipping notification updates. Before clicking on any link, use caution by hovering over the link to view the embedded link and confirm it is the intended site, rather than something suspicious.
- Use Private WiFi networks – because Public WiFi networks are not secured by a password, data can be at risk of being stolen. Only make financial transactions and shopping purchases on private networks.
- Verify you are on a secure site – click on the padlock icon in the web address bar or look for a web address that begins with “https://” instead of “http://,” to ensure you are on a secure site with a secured connection.
- Pick up the phone- if you receive any emails or texts requesting an update to private information or to confirm a purchase, contact the retailer or organization over the phone to validate the request.
- Secure Payments – because Debit Cards directly withdraw money from bank accounts, they do not have the same fraud protections as credit cards, which are more favored to use. When possible, utilize ApplePay, PayPal, or other payment gateways to add another layer of protection.
- Proactively review your statements- rather than wait for your bank and credit card statements to arrive at the end of the month, consistently review purchases so that you can quickly dispute any suspicious charges.
- Use unique passwords- when creating accounts for ecommerce sites, maintain unique and strong passwords to prevent a cyber criminal from accessing multiple accounts. It is best to include a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols when creating a password.
It’s the most wonderful time of year to stay safe online! Graham Company is equipped with cybersecurity and insurance resources to support you during this holiday season. To learn more about Graham Company’s focus on Cyber Liability, please watch this video.
We also recommend checking out tips from the National Cybersecurity Alliance and CISA.
Feel free to reach out to Margaux Weinraub (firstname.lastname@example.org) or any member of your Service Team with questions.