Editor’s Note: In effort to help keep families safe online this holiday season, Mr. William Pelgrin, founder of Cyber Griffin, Inc., shares his expert tips is this guest post.
By William Pelgrin
With Thanksgiving weekend about to kick-off holiday shopping, did you know that one third of Americans plan to do their shopping online? This increased traffic turns the digital marketplace into a winter wonderland for hackers. In order to fund their own gift-buying, cyber criminals are gearing up to swipe credit cards and personal information to commit fraud and even identify theft.
In today’s digital world, the scary truth is that it’s no longer a question of if you’ll become a victim of a cyber incident, but when. Cyber-attacks are most prevalent around the holidays and come in many forms, including identity theft, virus infections or password hacking.
A few simple precautions and expert tips to help arm families with the knowledge to help keep them protected and reduce their cyber security risks while shopping online include:
- Shop only on well-known sites: Shop online with trusted merchants. If you aren’t sure about a site’s credentials, check with the Better Business Bureau or Federal Trade Commission.
- Have a strong password – and use it!: Use unique passwords for each account you have online, making sure each contains letters, numbers, upper case and special characters; any word found in a dictionary (even a foreign language dictionary) is a weak password.
- Use a credit card, not debit card: Credit cards are protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act, so your liability may be reduced if you are the victim of unauthorized use of your account.
- Protect your computer: Install and update anti-virus software and firewalls on your computer, and keep your operating systems patched.
- Think before you click: Never interact with links, attachments or websites that you don’t know or trust. Purchase items directly from the site; don’t click on links provided in emails-no matter how enticing the sale looks.
- Get cyber-savvy by playing a game: Check out Hax Attacks, an entertaining online mobile game application, developed by Will Pelgrin and his team of security experts. It’s a fun and simple way to teach the entire family safe internet practices.
- Don’t use public Wi-Fi for online shopping: Cyber criminals can potentially access any information you submit on public Wi-Fi, such as credit card numbers or passwords.
William Pelgrin is a leading cyber security expert with more than 15 years of experience serving several high profile roles in the industry, Mr. Pelgrin is the founder of Cyber Griffin Inc., a first of its kind video gaming and training product company Additionally, Mr. Pelgrin is the Chair of the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC), recognized by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for its proactive role in coordinating state and local government cyber readiness and response where he participated in President Obama’s 60-day Cyberspace Policy Review.