By: Madison Bolton
In today’s interconnected age you should strive to stay safe online every day of the year. During the holiday season, it is especially critical to remind others the importance of online safety.
Here are some suggested tips to keep in mind for a safe and happy holiday season:
DON’T blindly accept friend requests.
Postpone accepting friend requests until after the holidays, unless you are expecting one from a family member or close friend. If it is a family member or close friend that you thought you were already friends with, ensure you contact them first before approving the request. Many hackers duplicate profiles you already follow to get you to follow them as well. So, if you get another friend request from Grandpa Joe give him a call or shoot him a text to see if it is really him.
DON’T shop till you drop on public Wi-Fi.
Online shopping is such a breeze and can be done anywhere now thanks to the technology on our cellular device, but be aware of shopping on public Wi-Fi. Giving out your information and card number on an untrusted network can lead to fraud. It is better to wait and make the purchase when you are home or on a trusted Wi-Fi network.
Have to buy the present now? Use your credit card instead of your debit card. With a credit card, you have a buffer protecting your checking account — plus you have better consumer protection and a grace period to get things cleaned up.
DO use the holiday season as a time to change your social media passwords.
It is recommended that you change your passwords every 90 days, but who really does that? Make your first New Year’s resolution to change your passwords and prevent those hackers from getting your information. ConnectSafely suggests making your password 12 characters or longer, and include numbers, capital letters and symbols all in one password.
DO hashtag wisely.
Hashtags can be a blessing when you’re trying to get followers or likes, but sharing too much information in your hashtag can make you a target around the holidays. Avoid revealing hashtags like: #homealone, #holidayvacation2018, #ontheroad, #tograndmothershousewego, #smithfamilyout, #bebacknextyear, #bye[hometown], #missing[hometown]
DO be aware of what you share.
You might be excited about your travel plans for the holidays or an event you’re going to be attending. Do not tag your location on social media or share any upcoming plans. It only takes a few minutes to burglarize a home, therefore posting online to the public can wait. Take some great photos and share online when you get back home.
Also, be aware of what you “like,” “follow,” “retweet,” etc. News feeds often include what our friends are interested in. If you’re suddenly “liking” local holiday festivities or landmarks from another state than your own, people can assume that you’re out of town.
Remember: There’s nothing holiday specific about these tips. As criminals adapt to new technology it is important that we take caution as well. And there’s no time like the present to make sure you’re as safe and secure as possible.