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      5 Cybersecurity Tips for Safe Holiday Shopping

      By The Fullstack Academy Team

      Holding credit card while shopping on laptop

      It’s one of the season’s biggest offenders. Every year it destroys holiday cheer all over the world. Not even the brightest lights can diminish the havoc it can wreak on your life. No, it’s not the villain from a holiday movie. It’s cybercrime.

      This year’s holiday shopping season is expected to be record-breaking, according to the National Retail Federation, with holiday spending expected to reach well over $950 billion. Additionally, online and other non-store sales are predicted to increase between 5% and 7%.

      While online shopping offers convenience during the busy holiday shopping season, it can also attract cybercriminals. To make sure you’re not a victim of cybercrime this season, here are a few cybersecurity tips for holiday shopping to protect your online information while searching for the perfect gifts.

      How to Protect Your Online Information

      Cybercrime can come in many different forms, including phishing emails, data breaches, and stolen passwords. To keep your personal information safe during the holiday shopping season, it’s important to take an informed and well-rounded approach to cybersecurity. Here are more cybersecurity tips for holiday shopping to help keep threat actors at bay this season.

      Shop Secure Websites

      You’re scrolling through social media and see an ad for a product that would make the perfect gift for your best friend. You click the link, and it takes you to the website of a company you’ve never heard of, but you take the risk of putting in your credit card information. Moments later, you realize this isn’t a legitimate website, and they now have access to your banking and personal information.

      One of the easiest ways to keep this from happening is to make sure you’re only shopping on trusted and reputable websites. Before making a purchase, research the company to make sure there’s no evidence of fraud or poor business practices.

      Additionally, you can shop on third-party websites, such as Etsy and Amazon, that offer protection for your purchase if something goes wrong.

      Beware of Phishing Attacks

      The holiday shopping season can be heavy on your wallet. Luckily, you just received an email offering you a 75% discount at your favorite store. You click the link and are brought to a website where you’re asked to enter personal information, including your address, bank account information, and social security number. You exit quickly because you realize it’s a phishing scam.

      Unfortunately, phishing scams are popular during the holiday season, and they come in many forms. One of the most common scams in recent years involves a text message, seemingly from the United States Postal Services, that asks for a response about package delivery.

      Many phishing scams often look similar to legitimate messages that you would receive from a company. However, according to the Federal Trade Commission, phishing scams often include one or more of the following:

      • Have a generic greeting

      • Ask you to click a link to update payment information

      • Inform you that your account is on hold due to a billing problem

      The bottom line is that if you ever have doubts about any communication from a company, reach out to their support team and ask if it’s legitimate.

      Secure Your Transactions

      The holidays are officially over, and you’re looking through your bank statements to see just how much you spent this year. As you’re looking through your transactions, you see a purchase of $2,000 from a store you’ve never even heard of. It’s at that moment you realize your payment information was stolen.

      To prevent this situation from becoming a reality, you must make sure every online transaction you make is secure. Keep these cybersecurity tips in mind to ensure you’re protected during checkout:

      • Use reputable third-party services, like PayPal, as they provide enhanced security and make it easier to dispute transactions

      • Make sure you’re only visiting websites that start with “https://” because it means the website uses encryption to protect your personal information

      • Do not use public wifi when making online purchases, as the connection is not secure and can lead to identity theft

      Protect Your Passwords

      You’re enjoying your favorite holiday pastime when suddenly you receive an email notification from a store thanking you for your recent purchase. But you haven’t ordered anything from there in months. As it turns out, someone hacked into your online membership account and ordered items using your credit card.

      A recent study revealed that the average person has over 100 passwords, many that protect sensitive personal information. The good news is that there are many ways to protect your password from falling into the wrong hands. Some tips include:

      • Not sharing your password

      • Using a reliable password manager to keep your passwords safe and secure

      • Utilizing multi-factor authentication to provide enhanced security

      • Changing your passwords frequently to prevent constant access to your account

      Keep Devices Up-to-Date

      You’re trying to finish your last-minute holiday shopping, but your phone keeps notifying you that it’s time for a software update. Despite your better judgment, you ignore the notifications and continue shopping. A few days later, you realize your phone is displaying strange pop-ups and crashing frequently. It turns out that your device was hacked because it didn’t have the latest security enhancements.

      One of the easiest ways to protect yourself from cybercriminals this holiday season and beyond is to ensure all of your devices are updated. Software updates often include crucial security improvements that can act as another line of defense against cyberattacks. So, while those update notifications can be bothersome, it’s for a good reason.

      Bonus Tip: Gain In-Depth Cybersecurity Knowledge

      The cybersecurity tips outlined above are just a few basic ways to protect yourself from cybercrime this holiday season. The truth is cybersecurity can be complex, and there are threat actors lurking around every corner. To make sure you’re protected, you need to stay up-to-date with the latest trends, tactics, and technologies.

      Enhance Your Cyber Knowledge at Fullstack Academy!

      One way to get on the path to becoming a cybersecurity pro is to attend a tech bootcamp. At Fullstack Academy, we help aspiring cyber professionals develop the skills, knowledge, and experience to fight cybercrime, secure networks, and actively respond to incidents. In as few as 12 weeks, you’ll gain hands-on experience solving real-world cybersecurity challenges using the latest technologies. Ready to fend off cybercriminals? Learn more about our immersive, live online bootcamp.