Ho-ho-hold your horses on­line to avoid phish­ers

The Denver Post - - BUSINESS - By Bree Fowler You’d bet­ter watch out! Santa (and hack­ers) are watch­ing Feast of the phishes

new york» ’Tis the sea­son to be jolly — but it’s also the sea­son for iden­tity theft, phish­ing and credit card fraud.

With Christmas just days away, peo­ple are us­ing their smart­phones and other de­vices to get a han­dle on their last-minute shop­ping. Hack­ers are on the hunt as well, look­ing to steal per­sonal in­for­ma­tion from easy tar­gets.

“Peo­ple just need to have their radar up, so that when they’re try­ing to get their per­fect gift to grandma’s house in time for Christmas day, they’re not click­ing on things they shouldn’t,” says Michael Kaiser, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Na­tional Cy­ber Se­cu­rity Al­liance.

Here are some tips for stay­ing safe this hol­i­day sea­son as you rush to get last-minute shop­ping done.

Make sure your phone’s op­er­at­ing sys­tem and all the apps you use to shop are up to date. That way you’ll have the fixes for any re­cently dis­cov­ered se­cu­rity prob­lems.

You should also en­able mul­ti­fac­tor au­then­ti­ca­tion in the set­tings on your im­por­tant ac­counts.

No­body likes to dip into their mo­bile-data plan, but you might want to set aside a few gi­ga­bytes for your hol­i­day shop­ping.

Sign­ing on to free Wi-Fi at a store or cof­fee shop can be risky. Hack­ers could be lurk­ing on the net­works, ready to use that con­nec­tion to steal credit-card num­bers or other per­sonal in­for­ma­tion. If you’re us­ing free Wi-Fi, at least wait till you get home to check your bank ac­count bal­ances, Kaiser says.

Phish­ing spikes dur­ing the hol­i­day sea­son. E-mails that of­fer great deals on hol­i­day gifts or dona­tion pitches from char­i­ties could ac­tu­ally be at­tempts to steal your credit card or lo­gin in­for­ma­tion.

An­other pop­u­lar trick: fake e-mails sup­pos­edly sent by on­line re­tail­ers or ship­ping com­pa­nies.

Don’t click on links in th­ese e-mails, as they may lead you to a fake web­site that looks le­git­i­mate. In­stead, type in the com­pany’s web­site di­rectly.

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