For millions of Americans, getting the best holiday shopping deals and discounts have become as much a part of Thanksgiving as turkey, football or pumpkin pie. Increasingly, that shopping takes place online, which provides a lot of conveniences but also raises the specter of scams, fraud or identity theft. Just as consumers have migrated towards online shopping, credit card thieves have started shifting their efforts online as well. During the holidays, deeply discounted products look appealing and shoppers make quick purchasing decisions without always taking into consideration the online purchasing risks that can be present. Many Americans have had their online accounts hacked and personal information compromised because of stolen credentials or weak logins. As hackers get more resourceful, usernames and passwords – which have been the fundamental account security mechanism – are no longer a sufficient solution to secure accounts. Luckily, there is a simple way to secure your online accounts and better protect yourself against online crime: strong authentication.
Enabling strong authentication, sometimes called multi-factor or two-factor authentication, goes beyond just a username and password and is a useful way to lock down your login. I encourage you to enable strong authentication on your sensitive online accounts such as your email, banking, and social media accounts today. Taking advantage of the strong authentication – such as a unique one-time code through an app on your mobile device, biometrics, or security keys – that are offered by the majority of popular websites and services can go a long way in protecting your personal information online.
The White House recently launched the “Lock Down Your Login” campaign to encourage all Americans to protect themselves online with strong authentication. For more information on strong authentication and the new campaign, please visit www.LockDownYourLogin.com. You’ll find specific advice on how to turn on strong authentication on a variety of websites and services that Americans use each day.
Additionally, DHS’ Stop.Think.Connect. campaign has a number of tips and resources to help consumers protect themselves when shopping online. In addition to using strong authentication whenever possible, consumers should:
- Never provide your banking or credit card information over an unsecured public WiFi network.
- Shop only at credible, reputable websites, and look for URLs that start with “https”, which are more secure than “http” sites.
- Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Hackers and thieves often use “can’t miss” deals to lure unsuspecting customers and collect credit card or financial information.
For more tips and information on how to stay safe online, please visit www.dhs.gov/stopthinkconnect.