Whenever the holiday period nears closer, the cyber criminals start to come out in droves, they always have their new set of scams vulnerabilities that they look to exploit, for their benefit.

Whenever you decide to shop on the internet, you are required to put your personal information out there. You don’t want to put yourself in a situation where you are forced to cancel a credit card, especially when on holiday, as it can and most likely will dampen the rest of the event.

There’s never any better time than now to take some time to take a look at what you are doing, as you want to ensure your information is forever protected and kept out of the hands of online criminals.

Top 10 Computer Security Tips for the Holiday Period

1. Don’t Reuse Passwords

Despite all the expert security advice out there for end users to never use the same username and password across different websites, there are still a large number of people that refuse to heed such advice and do just that.

Respondents between the ages 18 – 30 stated that they reuse the same password 87% of the time, while those above the age of 30+ said they reused their passwords 81% of the time. There’s no question that having to remember different passwords can pose an issue, but the shortcut route, can make things much easier for cyber criminals.

The thing that makes it worse is that, if a hacker is able to acquire your username and password they could simply put the same username and password into all the popular websites and gain access to your accounts.

2. Share Threat Data

Most of these criminals like to launch coordinated attacks against multiple retailers. By sharing this attack data, such as the various techniques they’ve deployed, other retailers can use such when attempting to curb the activities of these cyber criminals.

Most companies prefer to share this sensitive information through informal methods, such as personal relationships. But there are many automated and semi-automated options that are available, such as open source threat intelligence communities, these communities allow people to share detailed information about data breaches.

3. Update Social Media Status

A common mistake that many people make is to assume that their privacy settings will remain intact across all their social media profiles. But the reality is that many of these social media sites have a knack for performing updates, some of which may make your profile public. This creates the perfect opportunity for online criminals to acquire information about you from your social profiles, and use such information to access all your personal online accounts. For this specific reason it’s always best practice for you to monitor your privacy settings at least one a month, and verify that everything is as it should be, by searching your name online.

4. Implement a Backup Plan

You should always have a backup procedure in the event that you are unable to access a specific system. For example, if your passwords and usernames become compromised, you should have some way of securing your data or acquiring funds through another means, in the event that your credit card was compromised.

5. Use Secure Passwords

You always want to go with a secure password procedure. So, whenever possible, you should consider the 2-step verification, which is often utilised on the most popular websites such as Gmail and Facebook, and typically entails having to enter your phone number in addition to your password. Some laptops and mobile phones have 2-step verification processes in the form of fingerprint identification, so that’s something you’d want to look out for.

6. Use Safe Online Shopping Practices

If you have intentions of carrying out some online shopping this holiday period, then you should consider creating a free email address, either via Yahoo or Gmail, specifically for your online shopping activities.

This way, you will be able to keep your main email address secure; in the event that you’re new email address become compromised or is bombarded with lots of junk mail.

You can use these free email accounts for shopping sites, coupons or any other new website you encounter, but are not 100% on.

Before you make the decision to purchase anything from one of these websites, it’s always best practice for you to carry out a search on the business, to find reviews, just so you can find out what others have to say about it, whether it’s legitimate and what kind of service they offer. You should always be cautious when you come across pricing that just seems too good to be true.


Uchenna Ani-Okoye is a former IT Manager who now runs his own computer support website http://www.compuchenna.co.uk/

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