Tips To Avoid Cyber Threats This Holiday Season

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According to Insider Intelligence, retail e-commerce sales in the U.S. are expected to jump 35.8 percent this holiday season. With online shopping at an all-time high during the holiday season, businesses and employees must take the necessary precautions to avoid phishing schemes, suspicious websites and similar threats.

Why Is Cybersecurity So Important During The Holidays?

Cybersecurity events tend to skyrocket during the holidays. The reasoning behind this sharp increase in cybercrimes is a combination of factors. Employees are often so busy focused on preparing for the holidays ahead, cybersecurity is not on their mind. Organizations should take extra measures to promote cybersecurity awareness during the holiday season.

Here’s What Your Employees Should Know This Holiday Season

Do not wait until a cybercrime has occurred to start preparing employees for the possibility of a data breach. Take a proactive approach to cybersecurity awareness by providing employees with some much-needed holiday cybersecurity training. This holiday season, here are some important topics to discuss with your workforce:

Ensure Your Software And Operating Systems Are Updated

Vulnerabilities are constantly being discovered that put businesses at risk. When software or operating systems are not continually updated, it creates security gaps that cybercriminals may take advantage of to gain access to confidential data. Businesses should ensure that their systems and software are updated and any security holes are patched.

Watch Out For Websites That Appear Legitimate

woman runs into fake websiteAlthough a website may appear legitimate and have the same layout, graphics or information as the intended site, it may not be real. This type of attack is referred to as “spoofing” and occurs when someone poses as a legitimate institution in an attempt to steal personal information. Teach employees to recognize signs of a spoof site, such as spelling errors. Employees should also avoid clicking on links and instead type the website address directly into their internet browser.

Only Visit Secure Websites And Browsers

Browsing the web securely means using only secure websites and browsers. Only purchase from sites that start with HTTPS, which secures the connection from the computer or phone to the site being visited. Also, check the SSL certificate, the URL, and whether or not the business provides contact information like a phone number and physical address.

Use Long And Unique Passwords For Each Site

Cybercriminals have a wide range of password-hacking tools and techniques at their disposal. To reduce the risk of having a password stolen, use long and unique passwords for each site. When creating a password, use a mix of characters, including lowercase and uppercase letters, symbols and numbers.

Doing A Gift Exchange? Review These Tips With Your Employees

Many businesses participate in annual gift exchanges during the holidays. However, these types of events can sometimes lead to fraud or stolen information. Before this year’s gift exchange, review the following tips with your workforce:

Verify the Site You Are On Before Entering Credentials

Cybercriminals often create websites that resemble successful sites. Before entering confidential credentials into a website, always verify that the website is legitimate. Teach employees to look at the URL to ensure that it is correct. Also, check the website’s privacy policy and look for a trust seal that indicates that the website works with a third-party security service provider.

Read Email Advertisements Carefully Before Clicking

Email advertisements can often be enticing but not all are from legitimate sources. Always read email advertisements carefully before clicking on any links or attachments. Ideally, employees should avoid this practice altogether and type in the website’s name directly into the search bar.

Use A Secure Checkout Method When Paying

using paypal to complete purchaseIt is important to use a secure checkout method to avoid cybercrimes like identity theft and stolen credit card information when it comes to holiday shopping online. There are several ways that employees can pay securely online, such as with credit cards, ACH payments, or voice payments. Options like PayPal, Zelle, and Venmo are also great for making purchases.

Monitor Business And Personal Bank Accounts After Shopping

Even with cybersecurity precautions in mind, there is always a chance that a hacker could steal a buyer’s personal or financial information. In the days and weeks following an online shopping purchase, monitor business and personal bank accounts to check for any suspicious transactions.

Speak With Hartman Executive Advisors For More Information

The holiday season presents certain cybersecurity threats that put businesses at risk for cybercrime. Organizations need to promote proper cybersecurity awareness in the weeks and months leading up to the holidays. Speaking with a strategic business and IT consultant can also prove helpful. For more information about staying safe online during the 2021 holiday season or to speak with an IT consultant, contact our experts at Hartman Executive Advisors today.

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