Posted by NPPD Acting Assistant Secretary for Cybersecurity Roberta Stempfley
On Monday, millions of Americans will log on to their computers, tablets or smartphones in search of discounts and deals as part of Cyber Monday. Online retailers from across the country now participate in Cyber Monday. Unfortunately, so do cyber criminals and hackers, who are seeking to exploit unwary shoppers for their credit card and financial information.
With the increasing threat of cyber scams and other online shopping fraud, it is important for everyone to practice safe online behavior on Cyber Monday, throughout the holidays, and every day.
Here are some simple cybersecurity tips can help protect your personal information and transactions on Cyber Monday and throughout the holiday season:
- Connect with care. Avoid doing any online shopping on unsecure wireless networks, such as places with public and free Wi-Fi. Do your online shopping at home, and make sure your home wireless network is password protected.
- Be cautious online. Do not click on suspicious links or download items from unknown sources.
- Pay attention to website URLs. Malicious websites may look identical to a legitimate site, but the URL may use a variation in spelling or a different domain (for example, the malicious site may use .net instead of .com). Also, look in the address box for https:// before entering any personal or credit card information. The “s” means secure. Unlike http:// URLs, https:// tells you that the site uses encryption to transmit your information over the Internet.
- Set strong passwords. Make sure your passwords are complex and unique to each account. Change your passwords often, and don’t set passwords that will be easy for cyber criminals to guess, such as “password.” A good rule of thumb is to create passwords with eight characters or more that use a combination of numbers, letters, and symbols.
- Don’t believe everything you see. While many retailers are offering great deals on Cyber Monday, there will also be deals that are just too good to be true. Before you buy that new tablet for only $50, be sure to shop only on the websites of trusted retailers, and avoid shopping through pop-up ads or unfamiliar websites.
- Use a credit card. There are laws that limit your liability for fraudulent credit card charges. You may not have the same level of protection when using a debit card.
- Keep a record of your order. Retain all documentation from the order in case your purchase doesn’t ship or you come across unauthorized charges on your bill.
- Check your statements. Check your purchase records against your credit card and bank statements. If there are differences, report them immediately.