Holiday season brings increased cybersecurity risk (11/21/17)

The California Department of Business Oversight would like to remind consumers that the holiday season brings a higher than normal risk when it comes to cybersecurity. With increases in online shopping and charitable giving during this time, criminals are working harder to exploit unaware Internet users. To better protect yourself, keep a few tips in mind:

  • Be aware of “phishing” attempts.  Criminals seeking to steal your credit card information use emails, text messages, and social media advertisements to tempt you with special holiday sales, leading you to unsecure websites.  Always check the address of a website before entering any personal information, and if you find yourself questioning whether a site is legitimate, it’s best to play it safe and look for a deal elsewhere. 
  • When shopping from a home computer, make sure your Internet browser is updated to the newest version.  Use strong passwords that include a mixture of letters, numbers, and special characters.  It’s a smart idea to use a different password for each website logon.
  • Always check for https:// at the beginning of a site address to confirm that your information is being transmitted securely, and look for a padlock icon in or near the address bar. You can click on that padlock for more information about the site’s security.
  • Sadly, criminals often target people who want to donate to charities.  They create websites that can look exactly like legitimate charity sites and are set up to steal your personal information.  Doing some research before you give, confirming that the site address is correct, and sticking to known and trusted organizations can help keep your payment information safe and ensure your money goes where you want it to.
  • Be cautious with shipping and delivery emails.  Fake tracking notifications are a common threat, and are even more widely used during the holidays.  Never download a file that an email says will allow you to track or claim a package – you could be exposing your computer to malicious software.  Legitimate shipment emails will direct you to use the shipper’s secure website.