Cyber security silhouette for website cropped2

Tips from Vermont Electric Co-op on Staying Cyber-Secure this Holiday Season 

December 9, 2019

Johnson, VT – Now that the holiday season is in full swing, many of us are likely spending more time online shopping for gifts, so it’s especially important to remain aware of cyber threats.

“Don’t let busy schedules cause your cyber-defenses to drop,” advises Vermont Electric Co-op’s Manager of Technology Bob Stein. “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 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.
  • Be especially cautious of new technology products that contain cameras and/or microphones. Often security is weak and you may put your privacy at risk.

“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.