Tired of getting hacked? This year has been rife with security breaches of all kinds, leading to a sort of fatigue among consumers.
As a preventative measure against further retail and bank security mishaps, the White House is issuing three pieces of advice for shopping online on Cyber Monday.
1. Avoid Suspicious Links
One of the easiest ways to get your personal information stolen is by clicking on an imposter link. It looks legitimate, but it’s not. Clicking on fraudulent links can lead to harmful malware being download on your computer or to a phishing attack. Bad links will send users to an interface that looks like something they’re used to and asks consumers to enter user names, passwords, and sometimes banking information.
The White House recommends going to a site by directly typing in the address yourself rather than clicking on a link sent through an email.
2. Check for HTTPS
On any site you shop on, check the site address to make sure it starts with https:// or shttp://; these sites encrypt a user’s communications with the site. The protocol predominately prevents man-in-the-middle attacks, which allow attackers to view user activity to get access to personal information.
3. Know Your Wi-Fi
The final suggestion from the White House is that users “know” the Wi-Fi channel they’re using. Connecting to public Wi-Fi to shop is a dubious prospect, because other people connected to the network can potentially connect to your computer or mobile device if you’re security settings aren’t properly set. Shoppers should also make sure that their home network is properly secured by limiting who can access their machine.
These are just a few tips from StopThinkConnect, an organization that partners with the Department of Homeland Security to educate the public on cyber security issues. Though being mindful of these three things will go a long way in reducing potential attacks, it won’t guard against every attack.
President Obama says he’s taking action on cybersecurity by building a more secure infrastructure for the government and by helping to create a more security “savvy” workforce. However, it will take a lot more public outreach to better educate the masses on the importance of securing their accounts than linking up with StopThinkConnect. What the president really needs is a robust campaign that goes beyond the Beltway to get people developing the kinds of security habits they’ll need to protect themselves against a multitude of attacks from skimmers in retail stores to hackers on the web.