AtNetPlus Blog

IT security never takes a holiday

With the kickoff of Thanksgiving, so begins the most cheerful time of the year.  Bring on the sweet desserts and gift giving!  But it is also time for new/unfamiliar technology. Here’s some reminders on how to avoid becoming a victim this season.

Thumb drives

Be careful with Thumb drives you receive as gifts. Some retailers use Thumb drives as an incentive to convince shoppers to spend that extra $20, but all thumb drives come with an inherent risk.  They can be loaded with malware programmed to steal your information or damage your computer.  Only use thumb drives that come in a sealed packaging from a reputable source. If you’re not sure – don’t use it.

Holiday e-cards and emails

You may get some legitimate e-cards from long lost relatives or friends. But you may also get them from spammers or desperate Nigerian Princes; people that don’t want to reconnect or just wish you happy holidays.  Instead they’re after your social media accounts, computer network, and your money.  Be wary of all email from people who don’t regularly contact you or don’t normally send personal greetings to you.  Your distant cousin or LinkedIn connection will understand.

Travel

With all of the travelling you will probably do this time of year, it’s easy to forget about your computer security.  Leaving laptops out in the open in a public place is a great way to not only lose all of those photos that you just took with Grandma, but it’s also a great way to compromise all of your personal and professional data. Make sure you have a secure password to log on to your machine and an up-to-date backup of your important data.  Then, keep an eye on your smartphone, laptop or tablet.  These are hot-ticket items for thieves because they are easy to wipe and sell on the black market.

Also, when you are at a café or in a hotel with free Wi-Fi, don’t just log onto the first network you see.  A lot of hackers have been known to set up fake Wi-Fi networks with names like “Free Public Wi-Fi” and wait for people to log on.  From there, they can monitor your traffic and gain access to usernames and passwords for the website you are logging onto.  If you aren’t sure which Wi-Fi is real, ask that friendly barista, but even then public Wi-Fi is just that – public.  It’s probably best not to log on to anything that you want to remain secure like email… you are on holiday after all

Shopping

With the holidays comes gift giving and getting.  A great way to save time and money is to shop online.  It’s more secure than in the past, but there is always an inherent risk when giving away your credit card information.  Make sure when you are checking out that you’re at a secure website (HTTPS) and buying from a reputable seller.  If you are not sure about the legitimacy of a seller, a quick check on http://www.mywot.com/ will give you everything you need to know.

It’s the holidays – have fun and let us know your suggestions for cool gadgets to give or get this year!

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