Stewart Blog Article

Holiday Season Cybersecurity Tips

Published on: December 13, 2021


Note: A more recent version of this article has been published on 11/2/2022.

The Holiday season is just around the corner, so make it a cyber-safe one with following tips.

Phishing emails will be on the rise. I expect usual suspects - shopping sites (i.e., Amazon, Walmart), shipping companies (i.e., FedEx, UPS, DHL), social media sites. Remember the basics. If the link lands you on a shopping site or any other site that normally requires a login, go to the site directly ([.]com), login, and search for the item of interest.

Two possible malicious scenarios for shipping companies: a) link asks you to log in, or b) link asks you to download shipping manifest (receipt). Both scenarios should be a red flag and in both, check the website you land on. Scammers will be using look-a-likes websites to mimic the appearance but serve malicious content. Visiting a website directly and not from the emails is your safest bet for any scenario.

Expect a rise in SMS phishing scams. I personally see an increase in just the last two weeks. Remember, many legitimate and malicious operators use URL shorteners to compress the URL. The downside is you don't know where you land until you click. The other danger of mobile scams is the absence of a valid caller ID.

What else? Watch out for porch thieves. Get your Amazon presents delivered to Wholefoods or Kohl's store. With many department stores, you can pick up deliveries at the store.

Like every year, there will be an explosion of "too good to be true" deals. Don't fall for it. Your mother's rule still applies. Especially if it came through social media, remember, everyone is Britney Spears on Social media. Don't use debit cards for online purchases. It is tied to your bank account, and any funds that are stolen may not be recoverable. User credit card instead. Empty boxes on the street from expensive merchandise may attract petty thieves to your house.

With supply chain delays and shortages, I expect new types of crime to be on the rise where the merchant will warn you on potential delays in shipping for a very-well prices merchandise at the time of purchase or later. Then charge your credit card and never ship the product. Possible delays are already on your mind but remember that you have a limit of ninety days to disputer the charges with most credit card companies.

Check your credit card statements more diligently over the next three to four months for any sign of misuse. It is also a good idea to order your credit report in January/February to spot any potential identity theft. Criminals know we will be distracted during the holiday season.

I wish you and your family a safe and happy Holiday season.