Tis the season for holiday shopping. Eager to dive into digital deals? Take the time to shore up your computer or device security before making purchases.

Nearly ninety percent of Americans have expressed concern over hacking attempts. It’s incumbent upon all of us to do the best that we can in order to protect our digital identities, data, and personal information.

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. Or look into passwordless authentication options.
  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 a 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.

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