Secure shopper insights: Navigating the 2023 holiday season

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November 16, 2023 - 'Tis the season of joy, festive decorations, and of course, online shopping. With the holiday spirit in the air, it's important to ensure that your online shopping experience remains both merry and secure.

As we spread cheer and shop for gifts, here are a few festive tips to ensure your digital sleigh ride stays secure:

  • Be wary of phishing attempts: Emails are a common hunting ground for cyber scammers. Resist the urge to click on links or open attachments, especially those claiming to be from your favorite stores, banks, or delivery services.
  • Steer clear of pop-ups and ads: Be cautious when encountering pop-ups and ads as some may harbor malicious intent. Instead of clicking directly on advertisements, perform a quick web search for the company to verify the legitimacy of the deal.
  • Guard against e-skimming: Credit card skimming has migrated to the online realm. Protect yourself by using third-party payment gateways when available. These gateways add an extra layer of security, particularly when making purchases on websites that have experienced security breaches.
  • Opt for credit cards over debit cards: Most credit card companies offer liability protection in case of fraud, providing an added layer of security. Check with your credit card company for specific details.
  • Prioritize secure networks: Always connect to secure and legitimate networks, especially when exchanging confidential information or making online transactions. Ensure that websites use encryption (look for “https” and the lock symbol in the address bar) to protect your data.
  • Stay skeptical: If a deal seems too good to be true, or if a sense of urgency is being pushed upon you, exercise caution. Scammers often employ these tactics to prevent you from scrutinizing their offers.
  • Reinforce password security: Create strong and unique passwords for your accounts, avoiding common substitutions. Consider using multi-factor authentication (MFA) whenever possible, adding an extra layer of protection.
  • Monitor your accounts: Regularly review your bank and credit card statements, especially during the holiday season. Identify and report any suspicious transactions promptly to your financial institution.
  • Beware of gift card scams: Gift cards, while convenient, lack the same protections as credit cards. Be cautious of websites or individuals pushing for gift card payments, and always verify the legitimacy of the transaction.
  • Avoid “Secret Sister” gift exchanges: Steer clear of online gift exchanges, particularly the Secret Sister phenomenon. These pyramid schemes promise gifts in return for a minimal investment but are often scams. Save your money and skip these dubious holiday exchanges.

In the spirit of a secure and joyful holiday season, let's shop smart and stay one step ahead of potential online threats. Embrace the convenience of online shopping while keeping these tips in mind, ensuring that your holiday purchases bring happiness without any unwelcome surprises. Happy and secure shopping!

Read more from Mark Brown in Elevate your cybersecurity defenses and other digital trust experts in Strategically building breach resilience by Stephen Scott and Embedding privacy by design by Conor Hogan. For more insights on other digital trust, privacy, information security, and environmental, health, and safety topics that should be at the top of your organization's list, visit BSI's Experts Corner.