December 1st, 2015
This year is expected to be the most connected holiday shopping season – ever. And that means security should be at the top of your to-do list so your holiday cheer isn’t stolen by hackers and thieves.
Las year 78% of American adults used the internet for holiday research, and 40% of holiday shopping took place online. Among those online shoppers, just over half (53%) shopped using their mobile phone or a tablet[i]. This year, 43% of shopping is expected to take place online[ii], and of that a whopping 70.8% of digital buyers are projected to be mobile buyers[iii].
To give you a sense of how tempting our holiday spending is to criminals, consider this: consumers are expected to spend $965 Billion between November and January – a 4% increase in spending over last year[iv]. That’s a lot of motivation, and it puts you, and your devices, squarely in the bullseye.
Are you prepared to go toe to toe with criminals?
We can’t protect ourselves from hacks that target the retailers we use, but we can significantly increase our own protection and the protection of the devices we use.
- Be sure you have up-to-date security programs on every device – including mobile devices and Apple devices as these are not immune to exploits. You’ve heard this advice before, and you’ll continue to hear it because it is perhaps the single most important step you can take.
- Only use secure networks – you don’t know what malware is lurking in that WiFi connection. It’s so tempting to want to leverage the convenience of hotspots, but there is nothing convenient about ID theft and financial exploitation – particularly during the holidays.
- Quit reusing simple passwords! 66% of American’s only use 1 or 2 passwords for all of their accounts. Frankly this is disastrous because as soon as that password is hacked, criminals have access to all your accounts. To make matters worse, common passwords like 123456, 12345, password, DEFAULT and 123456789 can be hacked in less than one second in a brute force attack[v].
- Protect your finances and check your credit report. Unless you are diligently monitoring your credit scores and credit history, or you use a service to monitor for you, start the holiday season off by requesting a credit report. This way, you know if there are red flags you need to address immediately.
- Be proactive and monitor your credit card statements to stay on top of any potential abuse. Check at least weekly in high risk, high shopping volume periods.
- Limit the number of credit cards you use, and don’t use debit cards for shopping. By keeping all your holiday expenditures on one card, you not only simplify your monitoring for fraudulent charges, you also limit the number of cards exposed. When you use debit cards for purchases in stores or online, the funds are taken directly from your bank account. If hacked, and while you may your money back, but you won’t have the funds in the interim unless your bank specifically, and immediately, covers you for any losses.
- Even better than credit cards, use a service like PayPal, where stores never get your credit card information, so your financial information can’t be part of a data breach. Many stores now offer PayPal for in-store shopping as well.
- Get smarter about holiday scams. All the security in the world won’t help you if you give scammers your information. Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you should get snowed! Check out next week’s article where we’ll dive into holiday scams that would make a Grinch blush….
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mavish Sandhu Marketing and Communications Manager, leads Frontier Secure’s marketing and communications team, creating compelling messaging and support for our home and business customers. Mavish joined Frontier in 2009 as a commercial sales manager leading the Northeast team in business development. She assumed her current role in 2012. Before joining Frontier, Mavish co-founded Pre-Meds without Borders, a national non-profit service organization. In addition to leading its startup, she developed a nationwide collaborative platform to propel health initiatives. Mavish began her career as an account executive for Dial America Marketing. Raised in Rochester, N.Y., she holds a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology from State University of New York Buffalo.