Cyber Monday has become an epic time of the year not only for consumers but for the online retailers that help them celebrate. Whether you’re eagerly waiting for the latest game console or TV deal, be sure to think about improving your home and office cybersecurity in advance of your online shopping binge. Here are 4 Cyber Monday security tips to cover you.
Beware of Phishing
First, watch out for phishing attempts just before Cyber Monday. Just like Black Friday, this peak e-commerce period is what any average hacker needs to penetrate a system by taking advantage of the online rush for cheap deals. Most hacking attempts of this type rely on the users’ perception that it is quite normal to receive an online offer in the days preceding Cyber Monday as an attached image or pdf file.
Therefore, you should carefully check every email you receive with offers boasting Cyber Monday bargains. It is better not to open emails that you haven’t subscribed for and to additionally inspect the origin of any email message that contains attachments. Most companies will have special webpages about their Cyber Monday deals, so checking them out directly without opening emails is a workaround to avoiding sketchy senders. Absolutely do not open emails with attachments – no reputable company will communicate with you that way.
Renew Essential Hardware
Check out the sites of the reputable online and brick-and-mortar retailers for hardware offers. Even if you have not installed any Internet of Thing devices in your home or office yet, chances are good that you may jump on the boat and add IoT to your surroundings.
That said, when looking for bargain deals keep in mind renewing your essential networking hardware (like your router at home or work). Your network is the entry point, and the single most important piece of hardware, so take care of an ageing router by replacing it with a new one when possible. Don’t just opt for the cheapest option since they usually have poor security, but evaluate with a mix of price and functional reliability.
If you already have smart devices in your home or office, look for replacements that offer improved security. Unfortunately, most of the first models of connected smart devices hit the market before their security is thoroughly tested, leaving the customers vulnerable to hacking. This includes devices like DVRs, Wi-Fi printers, online security cameras, connected refrigerators, and toasters, as well as virtually any device that connects to the Internet. You can also check for new hardware for your connected car, such as replacing Bluetooth devices and audio players that could be hacked providing access to vital car systems.
Get New Software Security Suite
Many major software vendors will likely offer bargain prices for some of their security software. Now is the time to save some money by purchasing a decent computer security suite. This can save you even more money over the long haul by preventing hacking attempts and cleaning viruses “at the door.”
Why not look for a security pack that includes a good firewall? Well, your Windows has a built-in firewall but if you have dozens of connected IoT devices, you should properly secure each of them individually and put them behind a reliable firewall. Look for a software security suite that offers the most functionality for your money without compromising functions like heuristic security scans (which detect unknown viruses and malware).
Update and Patch
Take your time during the Thanksgiving holidays not only to purchase but also to update and patch. Check all existing hardware and applications for available updates and patches. It takes minutes to update the firmware of a smart device, which can save you hours (or days) of hacking-related headaches in the future.
Update and patch all devices and software applications, and don’t forget to check for devices that still use a default factory password. This is the weakest point of a smart device that connects to the Internet as it allows a hacker quick entry. After you install any new smart devices or connected appliances you have purchased during the Cyber Monday, perform the same checks. At first place, change all their factory passwords. Update all firmware, download all definitions, and apply all available patches for each piece of hardware and software. Finally, tweak your firewall to deny any incoming connections using unsecure protocols to vulnerable ports of your smart devices and computer devices.
Happy deal finding!