Christmas is almost us upon us, again! This time last year, we outlined 3 simple steps that you can take to make you, your family, your business, and Gibraltar more secure and #hardtohack. These simple but effective steps are timeless and so important to your personal cyber resilience that they are worth reinforcing again at this time of year.
Cyber criminals will actively be exploiting shoppers in the lead up to Christmas.
People are planning to spend an estimated £32.25bn online on their Christmas purchases this year, according to research and insight company Statista.
Mike Wills, Co Founder at CSS Platinum, said shoppers rushing to secure the perfect present at the best price are at greater risk of malicious threats.
He added: “In the run-up to Christmas, many outlets will run promotional offers to encourage spending. This is a potentially lucrative time of year for cyber criminals as they know shoppers are less vigilant as they rush to snap up the best deals.
“Cyber criminals will no doubt be looking to take advantage of the vast number of transactions taking place and the financial information being shared as a result. There is also an increase in promotional email traffic, which makes it hard to differentiate the real bargains from scams – presenting a heightened risk of phishing attacks.
“With this in mind, it is critical consumers take steps to protect themselves and their families.”
STEP 1 Password Management
“Firstly, shoppers should change their passwords right away. While this is a faff, it is the single greatest defence you can make to protect yourself against a cyber-attack and will instantly make you much safer online.
“Currently, there are millions of emails and passwords for sale on the dark web, which have been breached by companies that have not protected people’s personal data sufficiently. Cyber criminals can buy this data for minimal amounts of money and could use it to gain access to your emails.
“They will look for social media accounts and online high street accounts and test your combination to gain access. From this, they can gather more personal data until they have enough to take our credit in your name or use your saved payment cards to make online purchases, for example.”
STEP 2 Personal data breach identification
“It is a good idea to understand whether your data has been breached so you can put in place other necessary measures to protect yourself. To do this you can use a free service provided by Have I Been Pwned. All you need to do is enter your email address and the site will tell you whether it is associated with a breach and if so, what other data has been stolen.
“If you have been breached, it is even more important that you change your password to break the chain. Next, you need to understand whether you have been entered into any spambots – as the name suggests, these are bots that send spam to you.
“While some spam is laughable, others are highly credible. If you’re rushing, there’s a higher chance you will click a link in a spam email, which could execute malware or ransomware on your device.
“Unfortunately, the only way to rectify and avoid your exposure to spam – and, in turn, the chances of clicking on a malicious link – is by changing your email address. This is best done by transitioning email address information on websites over a period time. While this is an arduous task, it is vital for protecting yourself.”
STEP3 Check your Anti-visrus
“Finally, make sure your anti-virus protection is installed, activated with a valid licence and updated. While free anti-virus software is available, it won’t protect you sufficiently. Competition to provide the best anti-virus changes year on year between the main vendors as they achieve technology breakthroughs in response to the evolution in cyber threats.
“The best thing to do is check reputable tech websites for reviews of the best current anti-virus software. We recommend buying a one-year licence, and then when it comes to renew, assess which company has moved to the forefront of anti-malware protection. There will always be new customer deals to be had.”
Be resilient and have a very Merry Christmas from all at CSS Platinum.
Michael Wills is co-founder and chief data officer for CSS Platinum. For further information on the company and the services it provides to Gibraltar businesses and the international yachting industry, please visit https://cssplatinum.com and/or email firstname.lastname@example.org.