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Be Sure You're Cyber-Secure this Holiday Season 

December 5, 2018

With the holiday season upon us, many of us are likely spending more time online, shopping for gifts for friends and loved ones. With online scammers and other bad actors particularly active during the busy shopping season between Thanksgiving and the New Year, it pays to remain extra alert during this period, according to VEC’s Manager of Information Technology Bob Stein.

“Don’t let stress and busy schedules allow your defenses to drop,” Stein advises. “Remain vigilant at all times and follow good, safe practices. If anything sounds too good to be true, it probably is and remember the adage: if in doubt, throw it out.”

Here are some tips:

  • Beware of phishing emails that appear to be from retailers. Take the time to inspect links (or hover over them) to check they are legitimate in emails to verify they go to the true vendor site, or simply take the time yourself to navigate to the site by typing the URL (or a search) into your browser. Shop on established sites that you trust.
  • Avoid apps for smart phones that promise savings that appear too good to be true. An increasing percentage of these apps are actually built to harvest sensitive information. Only download apps from established sources such as Google Play and the Apple App Store.
  • Avoid shopping on smartphones, if possible. Browsers on phones frequently can’t show the URL, and it’s easy to be tricked into visiting a risky site.
  • Beware of clicking on ads during this time of year. The shopping season brings many false advertisements designed to entice your response. Clicking an ad may actually lead you to a site that has been built to capture your financial information.
  • Pay particular attention to your credit card and bank accounts, so that if fraudulent charges are made you can take quick action. Set alerts on credit cards and bank accounts where possible. Some institutions can flag international charges, or charges above a certain amount, for example.

“VEC invests significant effort into our system’s cybersecurity and if we can help our members with their cybersecurity too, we can all benefit,” said Stein.