Saturday, November 22, 2014

Top 5 ways to keep your computer and identity safe during the holidays

Don't click on links in emails. Go directly to the website to check on orders.
Traditionally, phishing and malware attacks rise during the holiday season as online impersonators try to trick shoppers users into installing malware or providing personal information.

Before the holiday season starts, take some time to learn tips to make your online experience safe and insure a smooth celebration.

1. Don't click on emailed order confirmations or shipping links

This time of year, scammers take advantage of increased online buying and the corresponding package deliveries. They use fake order information and shipping notifications as a method to infect PCs and grab personal details. These fake notifications often look very close to the real version. When in doubt, don't click directly on order confirmations or shipping links within the email. Go directly to the retailer’s or shipper’s website by typing the address into a web browser to verify order and shipping information.

2. Don't respond to password requests, even from your bank

Your financial institution will never e-mail you asking for your password or any other information. Emails requesting that you use an embedded link are an attempt to scam you into surrendering private information for identity theft or other unauthorized purposes. Legitimate organizations should never request sensitive information in this manner. Instead of clicking on a link, type the legitimate URL to your financial institutions in your browser to access the web site.

3. Unless 100% certain of the source, never open attachments

When the sender is known and the attachment is in doubt, contact the sender directly and verify the legitimacy of the attachment.

4. Nice sentiment, but don't open online greeting cards

Each holiday, you can expect a flood of e-greeting cards from friends and family wishing you a happy holiday. While seemingly harmless, these holiday greetings can be dangerous. They may contain harmful viruses or may be used for identity theft. E-greeting cards are best not to be opened, and especially should not be opened using a work computer.

5. Carefully review all email, delete any suspicious ones

If the email is suspicious, do not click on any web link or open any attachment.

Two possible ways to evaluate emails are:
  • Move your mouse over a link without clicking it; you can often see the actual destination URL address underlying that link. If the now visible URL doesn’t look like an address that belongs to the legitimate site, be extra careful. If it appears to be legitimate, still be careful, the hackers are getting creative in this area as well. Instead, go directly to the website you know.
  • Often times, but not all the time, the “To” list of the email has multiple names that do not make sense for the subject matter. Delete these emails.


6. Safe Computing Tips for the office

In the workplace, you are the first line of defense and the best defense. Be skeptical of work and personal email that you’re not expecting and that is from unknown sources or just looks suspicious. When in doubt, contact your local help desk to verify any suspicious emails.

What tips do you have?