Although it’s the most wonderful time of the year, the holidays can also be stressful. That’s why online shopping seems like a more convenient way to attend to your nice list. In fact, the popularity of online shopping has exploded over the years — in 2019, more than half of consumers said they’d do their holiday shopping online.

 

Unfortunately, this convenience can come at a price. Hackers and scammers act like sharks who smell blood in the water, with the number of identity thefts increasing during holiday shopping spikes. Of the 8% of shoppers who said they were a victim of identity theft over the 2018 holiday season, 43% attributed it to online shopping.

 

While the best way to stay safe online is to surround sensitive information with multiple layers of security and strong firewalls, consumers can still take basic steps to shop safe.

 

  1. Don’t click on suspicious links — even from friends and colleagues. Phishing scams and malware propagate because hackers use friends’ names to send links to unsuspecting consumers. It’s best to report any message that seems out of character for a colleague or a friend and erase it right away.

 

  1. Look for the padlock and HTTPS in your browser’s URL bar before typing in credit card information. Routing information through a secure HTTPS portal adds a layer of encryption and safety to credit card or other sensitive data.

 

  1. Don’t shop using public Wi-Fi. Public internet connections are much more susceptible to hackers, so steer clear from them when shopping. Look for a server name that looks legitimate: STARBUCKS, not STARBOOKS, for example.

 

Both consumers and small to mid-sized businesses can ramp up cybersecurity protocols by consulting with an IT solutions expert and remaining alert to popular scams deployed during the holidays.

 

Learn more about how CMIT Solutions can help both consumers and small to mid-sized businesses with their cybersecurity needs.