Digital Security Introduction
During these times of increased “work from home” scenarios assisting businesses to keep forward progress, while attempting to keep their staff safe, the rise of phishing exercises and identity theft are ramping up their operations.
- Be careful who you accept requests from. If anyone asks for something online that is sensitive in nature, chances are it’s a phishing expedition, and therefore you need to avoid it. If you get a request, pick up the phone and make a call to “KNOWN” numbers for your company personnel.
- In much the same way, don’t click through any link on a questionable webpage. Be very careful where you visit with a company computer or phone. Many companies keep real-time copies of the browser history to ensure that you are kept safe while traveling, or working from home. So, a good “rule of thumb” is, if it’s not a site you would open with your boss standing right next to you, then don’t open it at all.
- Be careful what you post on social media. We have seen in a plethora of cases where companies retaliated to online posts by employees. If you are unhappy where you work, physically talk to your supervisor, or his/her boss. Expressing it online on a social media platform sends the wrong message, and some companies have policies leading up to termination.
- Be careful what sites you visit for uploads/downloads. Malware and viruses can be injected into just about any file type now. Being cognizant of the updates to your anti-virus and anti-malware software is a must. Many companies have us connect to the central network to provide these updates, so be sure to visit frequently.
- Constantly monitor access to your device. Shut it off if you’re not using it. Be sure to lock the screen (even if you’re alone at home) when you walk away from the computer. This is good practice, specifically if you are out in public.
We have seen a marked rise in cyber theft attempts as many attempts to secure their holiday purchases during this unprecedented time of lockdowns and the continued effects of an ongoing pandemic. Some things that we may want to consider as we complete our shopping trips and online spending this holiday season.
- Set an online spending budget. By setting a budget, it will help you to shop around and ensure that you are getting the best value for your hard-earned dollar. More importantly, be sure to stick to your budget. Many financial institutions can provide a daily spending limit, and this can assist you in sticking to your budget.
- Never click-through to buy something. Be sure when you are shopping that you are visiting the actual site you are wanting to buy from, and check the address in the browser window. By installing click-through images on webpages, the destination addresses may differ from what is visible in the link image.
- Be careful of emotional buying. Many sellers will attempt to garner your emotional “buy-in” by displaying ads that pull on the emotional “heart-strings”. Be sure to check other locations/shops for the same item to be sure that you are, indeed, getting the best deal.
- Never provide any personal information on pages that don’t have either: an icon showing a lock (Google Chrome has it to the left of the address bar), or HTTPS: in the address bar itself. These two items demonstrate that you are connected to the site using some type of certificate, essentially making the transaction protected by a secure tunnel, meaning that third parties cannot intercept the transaction and steal your information.
- Identify subscriptions versus straight purchases. Many products, particularly software applications have a monthly subscription cost, in lieu of a one time purchase cost. Be mindful of these types of tactics when purchasing online.
- Read the small print. Remember, if something looks “too good to be true, it probably is”. In some cases, we have seen a rise in stolen property. in a limited number of cases, this stems from the opportunistic crime sprees that occurred during social unrest in the lower-48. Be careful what you’re buying.
- Be sure to get a receipt. All purchases should provide you with some proof of purchase, be sure to keep these, at-least until you have the product in-hand. In addition, should there be an investigation for stolen property, having a receipt proves that you did not have knowledge of the product being stolen. However, also remember,that “receiving stolen property” is the responsibility of the buyer, so buyer beware.
- Monitor your banking statements on a frequent basis. Being able to quickly report potential fraud to the financial institution betters the chances that you’ll be able to receive your money back. It may also ensure that others are not tricked as well.
While shopping online is an easy way to find everything on your list, curbside or localized pick-up services also allow you to secure the product online and minimize your social distancing exposure. There are plenty of opportunities to support charity functions online, but again, be careful, there are as more scams than actual businesses in the online digital world, particularly in the e-commerce world.Mark Weisman