It’s a brand new year and I thought it’d be apt to run you down an almost cliché list of security tips to make sure you stay safe online especially around the holidays. Let’s get started.
1. Check (and recheck) web addresses.
With website cloning becoming as easy as ever scammers seem to have taken their game to the next level. Most people don’t really pay attention to the address they visit as long as the site looks familiar. Amaz0n.com might look similar to Amazon.com but it’s not Amazon.com. Watch out.
2. Use Ad-Blockers
I recommend using an ad-blocker only because it keeps most people out of trouble than anything else. Malicious ads are everywhere and ad-blockers help keep them out of sight so you’re not tempted to click on “You’ve won an iPad for FREE”.
3. Use Site Advisors
There are plenty of extensions and plugins for chrome and firefox that will notify you of the reputation of the site you’re visiting. They usually display a green check mark against websites that are safe or a red X mark if the site is harmful. A few popular ones that I’d recommend are McAfee Site Advisor and Web Of Trust.
4. Avoid Pirating and Visiting Shady Looking Websites
Websites hosting pirated content, torrents and other warez are hotbeds of malware and phishing scams. In fact many such sites are run by master deceptors, hackers and scammers. Avoid them like the plague even if 11 year old Tommy says you can download PS4 games for FREE!
Extra Tip– Media companies like Time Warner and Comcast have been known to log IP address of users downloading pirated content and then send them a pretty much “See you in court” notice. I’m guessing you don’t want to go down that road.
5. Don’t save credit card information Online
With data breaches at large consumer companies occurring left, right and center it might be a good idea to re-evaluate who you give your credit card information to. Not every shopping site that has fancy security stickers posted all over it is secure. If Yahoo, Adobe and Apple can get hacked, danschristmascookies.com (I totally made that up :-D) doesn’t stand a chance.
6. Restrict in-app purchases on App Stores of your Android and iOS devices.
If you haven’t enabled App store restrictions on your mobile devices by now you’re either rich or plain ignorant. My cousin blew through $80 of in-app purchases last Christmas playing a popular game on my sisters iPad. Until I told her about asking Apple for a refund and showed her how to restrict purchases on the app store that kid was grounded.
7. Outsmart Phishers
Cynthia put out an article a couple of weeks ago that discussed this. My rule of thumb though is if you ever get an email you’re unsure of with a link asking you to change or update your password because of ‘security reasons’, don’t click the link, just go to your settings and change your password.
8. Stay in the Know
Keep yourself up to date with all the happenings in tech. In today’s day and age ignorance is not bliss. Ignorance is foolish and expensive. A few good sources that’ll keep you in the loop apart from us are CNET, Tech Crunch, Wired and Ars Technica. I also recommend subscribing to our awesome newsletter which has tons of great stuff in it.
Wishing you the best this holiday season.