You are bound to hear news stories over the coming week about Black Friday sales and some of those are going to include how to keep yourself safe when shopping online. Now I can’t necessarily say that things are going to be more dangerous on that day – as I doubt that’s really the case – but it’s a big enough day to make stories hit a little bit closer to home and sound scarier. Heck, even the IRS has planned its annual Security Summit to start on December 2, right on the heels of the big day.
Now sure, some of this is scare tactics, but that doesn’t mean there are not common-sense measures you should be using to protect your personal information any time of year. So here a few highlights from the IRS’s longer spiel on the subject to keep in mind.
If you are on a website and going to make a purchase, take a half-second and make sure it’s a secure website. This can be done by noting if the site’s address starts with https instead of http, and many browsers will also give you an indicator with a symbol, such as a lock. This is especially important if you are on a website that you accessed by an email link. It is not difficult for scammers to make emails and websites look official and that extra check can help make you safe.
Along those lines, trust your email’s spam filter. Sure, things that you actually wanted to see occasionally end up in a junk folder, and we often have no idea why. Most of the things that are there, though, are things you did not want, which means it tends to do a pretty good job. So be extra wary of communication that lands there.
Standard security software works pretty well, too, and most people put it on their electronic devices at some point. It only keeps working pretty well, however, if you keep it updated. If you installed it on your computer three years ago, it’s only keeping you safe against attacks that existed three years ago. Those out to get information via nefarious means haven’t thrown up their hands in defeat because programs figured them out years ago, so you need to keep up with them.
And they do win sometimes, which can be scary. That’s why news stories about them exist at all, and it’s why stories of large data breaches get larger stories. If scammers do gain some information from you, things get even scarier. You can at least mitigate some of the damage by not using the same password for everything you sign into.
This can be extra important for there are some passwords you do occasionally share. I mean it can be fine for your kids to know the Netflix password, but you might not also want them to then have the knowledge necessary to access your bank accounts.
Security is important, so talking and thinking about it should happen. Actions to stay secure should also happen. Simple steps can help you feel safer and stop you from giving in to fear.
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