Information Security

Staying Safe Online Over the Holidays 2019

I hope you are all looking forward to the holidays as much as we are. At Information Security, while we very much enjoy the break, we are always reminded of the threats that come up at this time every year.

With lots of people out looking for bargains, either to buy presents or to take advantage of the sales, Winter time is a great time for fraud and phishing. Fraudsters are fond of setting up fake e-commerce sites around the holidays.

Prior to making a purchase, read independent reviews to hear what others say about the merchant. In addition, look for a physical location and any customer service information.

“If it looks too good to be true. It probably is.”

So please remember to be wary when taking advantage of shopping online this season and to make sure you protect yourself and your devices by doing the following:

  • Keep your software and antivirus up to date
    • Before picking out that perfect gift, be sure that your internet-connected devices, including PCs, smartphones and tablets, are free from malware and infections
  • Use secure Wi-Fi when shopping online
    • Using public Wi-Fi to shop online while at your favourite coffee shop is tremendously convenient, but it is not necessarily safe.
    • Don’t make purchases via public Wi-Fi. Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) or your phone as a hotspot.
  • Use unique passwords and 2 Factor Authentication
    • Reusing passwords leaves you open to “credential stuffing attacks”, where one site being compromised leads to your accounts on others also being compromised.
    • Where possible use 2 Factor Authentication so that even if a malicious actor gets your password, they don’t necessarily have access to your account.
  • Be aware of what you post online. Don’t let the whole world know you’ll be away from home if you are travelling.
    • Burglars love this time of year, especially when people post exactly when they will be away visiting others.
    • Keep your social media posts about your activities private and take a minute to think before you post.

 

Tips for your new tech

 With all the gift giving going on, often we give or receive new tech. Before you or your loved ones take your devices for a spin, it’s worth considering a few simple tips to keep them safe and in top shape:

  • Install updates
  • Install Anti-Virus
  • Enable PINs (Encryption) and screen locks
  • Download approved apps from official marketplace
  • Disable services you don’t use

 

For more advice on how to protect yourself online, head to: https://www.ed.ac.uk/infosec/how-to-protect