You are probably already mentally preparing for Thanksgiving. Going over what to make, worrying about guests, travel plans, etc. But this is no time to go ‘cold turkey’ on your data security. From Turkey Day to Black Friday to Cyber Monday, your data security doesn’t take a vacation.
During the long Thanksgiving weekend is when you want to avoid the multitude of cyber-criminals who make it their business of getting between customers and retailers and helping themselves to your data (and your money) during the holiday season. You shouldn’t have to change your routine just because of a holiday. Hackers live off of companies and consumers taking their eye off the ball.
Cyber-security is not an on-again, off-again proposition. There are no days off. Once you start down this cyber-healthy path, there is no turning back. Some companies will learn the hard way, specifically Thanksgiving weekend, that you can’t go back to the days of taking security risks lightly. That type of thinking you may have gotten away with in the past, but not anymore and never again.
Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind when making purchases online or sharing personal data.
- Make sure you keep track of all your spending, since a majority of Americans do the heavy lifting of their holiday shopping these next few days. Always check with the Better Business Bureau to ensure you are buying from a reputable store. You should never disclose any personal info that you don’t have to.
- Buying products online can sometimes be too easy. Any website that insists that you provide them with vital information, like your social security number or mother’s maiden name is certainly not to be trusted. Even when the site is legit, you need to be aware of your hack-able passwords. When you shop online, store sites will usually ask you to create an online account and give you the option of storing your credit card information with them. When you do this make sure you use a unique password on each site you use, just like you would for other sites you use for your personal banking. Your social media, banking, and other sites on which you pay your bills or store important info, should not have the exact same passwords.
- Avoid public Wi-Fi or use a VPN. Public Wi-Fi is almost always slower and less safe than relying on mobile data, if you have a high-speed plan. If you must use it, however, consider doing so over a virtual private network (VPN). Such a solution will encrypt your connection so that prying eyes can’t see what you’re doing while on the network.
- Set up multi-factor authentication for your accounts. Most people recycle their passwords, which is the path of least resistance but one that’s also quite risky since a successful guess could compromise multiple accounts. Two-factor authentication (2FA) is an essential defense against this possibility, since it requires any login attempt to supply both the right login credentials and a second factor like a code sent to a separate device.
You can still stuff your face, hangout with the family, watch football and holiday shows, and shop until you drop, but never lose sight of the fact that cyber-criminals would love nothing more than to ruin your Thanksgiving weekend.