EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:

National Computer Security Day might have been inaugurated in 1988, but it’s even more relevant today than ever before. Scarcely a day goes by without the report of a new cyber breach. In the US, 14.4 million consumers have experienced identity fraud. One in five have experienced fraud more than once. Computer and device security are must-haves. 

In addition to representing National Computer Security Day, today is also Cyber Monday, the retail holiday where millions of Americans purchase items at a discount online. If you’re a fan of digital deals, take the time to shore up your computer or device security before making purchases. 

Today’s tips for stronger cyber security:

  1. Ensure that your software is up to date. Software is occasionally published with “bugs” or holes that hackers can exploit to obtain your credentials. Keeping your software up to date prevents software hacks.

  2. Are you still using default device passwords? Set new passwords for your devices.

  3. Device privacy and security settings should clearly state how any information that you enter into the device will be used, stored and shared. See to it that you’re not sharing more information than necessary with third-party applications or groups.

  4. Every so often, manufacturers provide updates for software. Enable automatic updates to make security easy and seamless.

  5. When you shop online, ensure that you only patronize reputable vendors. Look for Better Business Bureau seals and other icons to indicate a website’s legitimacy.

  6. Don’t fall prey to a look-a-like domain. If the website’s URL says Amazon.coms or otherwise seems “off” in some way, avoid it.

  7. Unless you’re expecting an email with a link or an attachment, steer clear of emails that contain these elements.  Unsolicited links and attachments can lead to problems with malware on your computer or device.

  8. When you’re ready to make that sweet Cyber Monday purchase, ensure that your financial data is protected vis-a-vis encryption. To determine whether or not your data is encrypted, look for a lock in the URL bar and/or ensure that the URL begins with “HTTPS” rather than “HTTP”.

  9. When possible, consider making online purchases with a credit card rather than a debt card. In the US, laws exist to limit a credit card owner’s liability when fraudulent purchases are made, but your debt card may not have the same level of fraud protection.

  10. Post-payment, regularly audit your card statements to monitor for any fraudulent transactions. Cyber criminals may try to pinch small amounts from your account at a time, so keep your eyes pealed for minor inconsistencies or purchases that you can’t quite remember making. 

For more ideas on how to get into the spirit of National Computer Security Day, click here. For in-depth computer security and device security advice, check out CISA’s Holiday Shopping Tips.