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Cybersecurity – TIP of the Week – Holiday (Online) Shopping Reminders


With the upcoming holiday season, many of us will be searching for the ideal gifts that are “all the rage” and will be appreciated. We all know online shopping has become easier, especially with the increased use of mobile devices. Unfortunately, this is also the season where cyber criminals are on the lookout, creating fake shopping websites to scam and steal, infiltrating home networks, and even taking advantage of those recently received gifts such as smart home devices and smartphones.

So, while you’re out there deciding on the perfect gifts, use some holiday reference to remember these tips:

There’s no place like home for the holidays… for safer online shopping. Ensure your Wi-Fi Access Point (WAP) is secure!

  1. Change the SSID (Service Set Identifier) from the default router name to one unique to you and not easily guessed by “roamers.” Check your instructions that come with your router or call your provider for help.
  2. Also, change the default administrator password to the router.  Leaving a default passphrase unchanged makes it much easier for hackers to access your network.
  3. Ensure the passphrase is strong and remember – you only need to enter the password once for each of your devices!
  4. Many wireless networks support what is called a Guest Network. This allows visitors to connect to the Internet but protects your home network, as they cannot connect to any of the other devices on your home network.
  5. The next step is knowing what devices are connected to your wireless home network and making sure all those devices are secure.
  6. Hackers are making their list, checking it twice, and going to find out who’s locking their device…. the bad guys look for unlocked and unsecured devices, exposing your personal information to peeping and snooping eyes.
  7. If your locked device is lost or stolen, the lock itself will be the first line of defense against a security breach, and the screen lock enables encryption.  Depending on your device, you can set screen locks by:
    1. PIN
    2. Password/Passphrase
    3. Fingerprint / Facial Recognition

Also, if you’re one of the lucky ones to receive a new device as a gift, remember:

  1. Keep the device updated and even enable automatic updating.
  2. Only download mobile apps from trusted sources; the bad guys create mobile apps that appear to be legitimate but are actually malware.
  3. If you’re disposing of a mobile device, or even passing it down to someone not as lucky, ensure it is wiped!  That device has a wealth of information on it; wipe before disposing it.
  4. If you get a new phone, be sure and add it to your DUO account. For information about DUO, see https://www.uthsc.edu/its/cybersecurity/duo/.
  5. And – above all – To stay healthy and wealthy, you’ve got to be wise…. Keep your cyber smarts, be vigilant while out there in the internet mall.

Maintain your cyber hygiene, exercise caution just as you would with your belongings in a crowded store.  Keep your cyber information secure while enjoying safe holiday shopping online, and be mindful to:

  1. Do business with retailers you trust and even purchased with in the past.
  2. Cyber Monday, Black Friday – while we’ll see a host of awesome deals, compare prices and pictures of your preferred merchandise.
  3. Don’t use your debit card for online purchases; credit cards usually provide better liability protection both online and offline.
  4. Check up on Holiday Hackers – set up credit card statement alerts and review your statement at least once a week.