As you would probably expect, the 2018 holiday shopping season is expected to break all previous records regarding online sales. (The projection is $123.4 billion, up from $106.1 billion in 2017.)
And if you’re thinking that hackers will take advantage of the seasonal shopping frenzy, increase in travel, higher stress levels, and greater likelihood of charitable giving that all come around this time of year, you’re right.
While we’re still winding down from the Thanksgiving holiday, it’s a good time to remind your family and staff about cybersecurity best-practices that can protect them and your business from the coming spike in hacker activity:
- Be aware of holiday phishing, especially on mobile devices. There’s always an increase in phishing attempts around the holidays, simply because the opportunities for them to succeed increase. Bogus delivery notifications are common, as many people are ordering gifts online. There are usually a lot of spoofed requests for “security verifications” from banks or online shopping accounts designed to steal users’ personal information.
- There has been a steady increase in SMS text-based phishing attempts as well. Be on the lookout for strange notifications in your mobile devices, as they may be concealing malicious links or attempts to phish your personal data.
- You or someone you know may come across a popular holiday party scam. Since the majority of companies in the US throw holidays parties this time of year, hackers will send out bogus invites to employees via email with a form to confirm their attendance. Naturally, this form is used to farm personal data.
- Unsecured wireless networks are a hot target for hackers around this time. With the increase in foot traffic in public spaces that comes with the shopping season, many malls and coffee shops become target-rich environments.
- Another growing trend is the use of phony holiday shopping apps. These are found online or even in legitimate app stores, and usually promise exclusive deals or offers for shoppers during the season. These apps can conceal harmful malware, or can be used to collect payment information from unwary shoppers.
How to Protect Yourself from Holiday Cyber Threats
- Ensure that your family and staff adhere to basic anti-phishing best-practices. Never open suspicious emails or click on unknown links. (This goes for SMS text messages as well as emails.)
- Password security is important year-around. Use strong passwords and change them often. Although two-factor authentication is not foolproof, it can be a great layer of additional security. Enable this feature on any of your accounts that offer it.
- Never use public networks for banking or online shopping.
- Even apps that seem legitimate can be dangerous. Think twice before installing any new apps to your mobile devices.
If you have any questions about cybersecurity risks and how they affect your business, please call us at or email firstname.lastname@example.org.