With the online holiday shopping season in full swing, it’s important to stay attentive while trying to find great deals. Maybe you’re shopping for security cameras, new laptops, or maybe donating to charity, don’t get scammed. The Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) recently released a reminder of the dangers to shoppers during the holidays. CISA focuses in on three areas:

  1. Check your devices
  2. Shop through trusted sources
  3. Use safe methods for purchasing

Checking your devices

This is a great reminder to check and make sure your smartphone or computer is fully updated. Fully updated means updating your device’s operating system, software and apps, web browsers, and especially your security software. It also means updating your modem and router too. 

Shopping through trusted sources

Scams come from all angles so it’s important to make sure you can trust how you are shopping for the holidays. The first thing to consider is what internet you are on. You can usually trust your own internet (if your devices are up to date, see above) and may need to take steps like using a VPN if using public Wi-Fi. Many promos and special offers will come via email right now, so pay extra attention to the sender and try to verify the email as best you can prior to clicking a link. You can do this by going to the online retailers website and see if they have the same deal on their site, if not you can typically call the retailer to verify. 

Using safe methods for purchasing

Oftentimes when buying online you need to set up a user account. If the site you are purchasing from or donating to requires this, it is worth looking over the privacy policy to see if and more likely how they share your information. I was reading a privacy policy the other evening for an app that acts as a remote for a device and the first sentence was, “Your privacy is very important to us.” I continued to read and it states how they share your data (name, phone number, email address, etc.) with their partners and sell select information to marketing agencies. This isn’t inherently bad, but asking yourself if this online retailer needs all of this is important. If you can purchase without a user account, it is definitely worth considering.

For more on learning how to protect your small business during the holiday shopping season checkout this previous Security Byte!