9 se­cu­rity steps to stay safe on­line dur­ing hol­i­days

Kuwait Times - - TECHNOLOGY - By James Lyne

The hol­i­days are a height­ened time when cy­ber­crim­i­nals are us­ing clever phish­ing emails scams that look like spe­cial of­fers or ship­ping no­tices for gifts. When in re­al­ity, these are de­signed to snare clicks and make you hand over in­for­ma­tion. Sophos is re­mind­ing con­sumers to pay ex­tra at­ten­tion to nine sim­ple se­cu­rity steps to stay safe on­line dur­ing the hol­i­days:

1. If an on­line deal or email of­fer with price dis­counts looks too good to be true, it prob­a­bly is. Hit delete.

2. Be aware of un­trusted wire­less net­works when you’re out shop­ping with your mo­bile phone. Con­sider wait­ing to en­ter your credit card in­for­ma­tion when you get home.

3. Only use trusted mer­chants to make on­line pay­ments. Use PayPal or your credit card, not bank debit cards to pur­chase gifts on­line.

4. Be on the look­out for Ty­posquat­ting. Cy­ber­crim­i­nals take a pop­u­lar on­line brand and change one let­ter or two to trick you into click­ing and shar­ing per­sonal in­for­ma­tion.

5. IoT de­vices are sure to be on ev­ery­one’s list this year, but they are vul­ner­a­ble to cy­ber­crim­i­nals. Be­fore you start us­ing your new­fan­gled de­vice, re­set the pass­word. Some, as we’ve re­cently see with Dyn DDoS at­tack, are vul­ner­a­ble to crim­i­nal­hacker hi­jack­ing.

6. Be sen­si­ble about pass­word se­cu­rity. Make ac­count pass­words dif­fer­ent and dif­fi­cult to guess. In­clude up­per and lower case let­ters, num­bers and sym­bols to make pass­words harder to crack - re­fer to the Sophos How to Pick a Proper Pass­word video for cre­at­ing stronger pass­words.

7. Cy­ber­crim­i­nals in­ter­cept data with spy­ware more than usual dur­ing the hol­i­days. Pro­tect against all mal­ware, in­clud­ing spy­ware, which logs your fi­nan­cial data while you type it into your key­board, with se­cu­rity soft­ware like Sophos Home. Of 1,250 con­sumers polled in the U.S., U.K., Ger­many, Switzer­land and Aus­tria in a re­cent Sophos sur­vey, 54 per­cent per­ceive spy­ware as an ex­tremely large cy­ber se­cu­rity threat. Thirty-one per­cent of those sur­veyed con­sider them­selves un­pro­tected, are not fa­mil­iar with spy­ware or un­sure if they’re pro­tected.

8. Run up to date se­cu­rity soft­ware and check out the Sophos Home tool­kit videos for tips on block­ing spy­ware and all other mal­ware, de­tect­ing and block­ing ma­li­cious URLs and apps, which could con­tain ran­somware, se­cur­ing wifi, and rul­ing out phishy emails.

9. At a time of higher than nor­mal e-com­merce, crim­i­nals have a piqued in­ter­est in ex­ploit­ing on­line ac­tiv­ity. Con­sumers need to be ex­tra vig­i­lant to pro­tect against cy­ber­crim­i­nals who amp up their ne­far­i­ous ways dur­ing the hol­i­days. Be cy­ber aware and use best se­cu­rity prac­tices.”

Note: James Lyne is the Global Head of Se­cu­rity Re­search, Sophos

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