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Happy Fraud-Free Holidays: Top Holiday Cybersecurity Tips

December 03, 2022 5 min read

holiday cybersecurity tips

As the holiday season casts its warm, festive glow, it's crucial to remain vigilant. Cyber threats reach their annual peak during this time, with ransomware attacks increasing by 30% and phishing attempts surging by up to 400%. The impact is significant, with 36% of Americans falling victim to online shopping scams. These incidents highlight the vulnerabilities that can result in identity theft and financial loss. In the upcoming sections, we'll present vital tips to fortify your cyber defenses, so your festive spirit and personal information remain secure in the face of digital threats.

Defense Against Online Shopping Threats

Vigilance Against Phishing

Phishing emails are more than just nuisances; they're baited traps set by cybercriminals looking to steal personal information. They capitalize on the increased promotional emails sent during the holidays, hoping you'll let your guard down. Why is this crucial? Because falling for a phishing scam can lead to identity theft, financial loss, and a severe case of holiday blues. According to the  2023 Phishing Report from Zscaler ThreatLabz, phishing emails are a significant security concern, with a 47.2% increase in phishing attacks in 2022 compared to the previous year. This emphasizes the importance of being alert, especially during the holiday season when such attacks are more prevalent.

  • Be skeptical of emails asking for personal information.
  • Check the sender's email address for authenticity.
  • Never click on links or attachments from unknown sources.

Two-Factor Authentication

Why bother with two-factor authentication? It's an added security checkpoint. Even if a cybercriminal gets hold of your password, they can't access your account without this second form of verification, which could be a text to your phone or a notification via an app. Implementing 2FA is a simple yet effective way to secure your online profiles against unauthorized access, significantly bolstering your defenses against the surge in phishing tactics.

  • Enable 2FA on all accounts that offer it, especially financial and email accounts.
  • Use authenticator apps instead of SMS whenever possible for higher security.
  • Keep backup codes in a secure place in case your 2FA device is unavailable.

Secure Transactions

When shopping online, use reputable security software and monitor your financial statements regularly for unauthorized transactions. Pay attention to secure payment methods and the security of payment gateways. Look for 'https' in the URL and consider using payment services like PayPal or virtual credit cards for added security.

Regular Updates and Patching

Keeping software updated is crucial because developers continuously fix known security issues. Outdated software can have vulnerabilities that cybercriminals are eager to exploit, especially when increased activity gives them more opportunities to strike. The importance of updating not just your apps but also your device firmware cannot be overstated, as these often contain critical security patches.

  • Enable automatic updates for your operating system and applications.
  • Regularly check for firmware updates for your connected devices.
  • Review and apply security patches for your home network hardware.

Using VPNs for Added Security

A VPN encrypts your connection, keeping your online activities and sensitive information secure, especially over public Wi-Fi. Choose a reputable VPN provider with strong security policies and a no-logs policy. Always disconnect from the VPN when it's not in use to ensure network performance.

Device Security

New tech gifts are uncharted territory. Without proper setup, including security measures, they can be easy targets for cyber threats. Protecting these devices from day one keeps your personal network fortress intact. Using strong passwords, employing privacy-focused apps, and securing your local network are all part of a comprehensive approach to protecting your personal information from potential breaches. It ensures that your holiday isn't ruined by the stress and fallout from cyber threats.

  • Start with strong, unique passwords – no ‘password123’, please.
  • Install updates and security software before using new devices.
  • Review and adjust privacy settings on new apps and devices.


Secure In-Store Shopping

As we transition to physical retail environments, protecting personal information is just as crucial. This section covers how to safeguard your data while shopping in stores.

The Use of Faraday Bags and RFID Wallets

During the holiday season, as you travel and shop, protecting your personal information becomes crucial. A Faraday bag by SLNT offers a layer of defense against digital pickpockets, ensuring that your smartphones and other devices are invisible to skimmers and hackers. Complement this protection with SLNT's RFID-blocking wallets, designed to safeguard your credit cards and IDs from digital theft.

This combination is particularly vital in crowded shopping centers and during transit, where digital theft attempts spike. When gatherings and homes are filled with new devices, a Faraday bag is a preventative measure to keep your devices secure until they're ready for use. It's a simple, effective way to safeguard your privacy in the bustling holiday season.

  • Secure your devices while in crowded areas. 
  • Give the gift of security and privacy to yourself and your loved ones. Consider investing in a  Faraday bag from SLNT and give yourself peace of mind knowing your devices are protected from skimming and hacking attempts.

Smart Shopping Habits

In the bustle of holiday shopping, it's easy to overlook the basics of physical data protection. Here are some smart habits to adopt:

  • Be aware of your surroundings, especially when using ATMs or payment terminals. Shield your PIN entry from prying eyes.
  • Avoid carrying too many cards. Only take what you need, minimizing potential loss or theft.
  • Keep an eye on your bank and credit card statements for any suspicious activity, particularly after big shopping days like Black Friday or Cyber Monday.

Post-Shopping Security Tips

After your shopping spree, don't let your guard down.

  • If you've made purchases at new stores or websites, be cautious of follow-up emails. These can sometimes be phishing attempts disguised as customer satisfaction surveys or delivery updates.
  • For any new accounts created during shopping, ensure that you use strong, unique passwords for each. Password managers can be helpful tools in managing these securely.

In summary, physical data protection is about being proactive in retail environments. From using Faraday bags to adopting smart shopping habits, these measures ensure your personal information stays secure.

Final Thoughts

With a significant surge in phishing and ransomware attacks, it's imperative to become the first line of defense in protecting our digital lives. From scrutinizing every email for signs of phishing to updating and patching our devices, taking control of our cybersecurity is crucial. Employing two-factor authentication, being cautious with links, and using a VPN are more than just good practices, they're necessary shields against the sophisticated tactics of modern cybercrime.

Physical security measures and tools like Faraday bags provide an added layer of protection in our interconnected world. By remaining vigilant and proactively fortifying our defenses, we can preserve the festive spirit and our personal information against the ever-evolving digital threats.