Hackers love the holidays. With an increase in shopping activity and card transactions during the holiday season, hackers ramp up their efforts in an attempt to steal a much higher percentage of card information. Although most of us are at the mercy of the retailer’s information security controls, there a few things we can do to protect ourselves this holiday season.
Whether you are shopping online or in person, opt to use a credit card, rather than your debit card, if possible. If your debit card is compromised and fraud occurs, the money comes straight from your bank account.
When shopping online, avoid saving your credit or debit card number on shopping web sites. While it is convenient to save this information for the next time you shop, it does put you at risk.
Regularly monitor your bank and credit card accounts. Thoroughly read your account statements, and keep an eye out for fraudulent transactions
Be wary of spam emails. Hackers craft holiday-themed spam and phishing emails in attempt to steal your personal data or infect your computer. Examples of some holiday spam you may see include: E-cards from unknown senders containing links to malicious websites, fake advertisements or promotions, and fake shipping notifications that contain malicious attachments or links.
In a previous blog post, we told you about card skimmers. Watch out for these small devices on public ATMs, and even on Burlington’s parking meter card readers.
Don’t forget about physical security measures: Don’t carry large amounts of cash at once and keep gift items in your trunk or out of sight in your vehicle.
Please spread the word, and have a safe and happy holiday season!
Brendan Chamberlain is an Information Security Analyst on the Information Security team at The University of Vermont Medical Center, where he is working hard to enhance the security of the network’s sensitive information.