Center for Internet Security Offers Online Security Tips for Cyber Monday

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The Center reminds users to remain vigilant to avoid online scams during the holiday shopping season

While it's important to remain vigilant online every day, we remind users to take extra precautions during this time.

The Center for Internet Security (CIS), a national not-for-profit dedicated to enhancing cyber security readiness and response, today announced tips to help consumers protect themselves while shopping online this Cyber Monday (November 28) and during the holiday season.

“While it’s important to remain vigilant online every day of the year, we remind users to take extra precautions on Cyber Monday and throughout the holiday shopping season,” said William Pelgrin, CIS President and CEO. “Cyber criminals are looking to take advantage of the high volume of users and transactions during this time in order gain access to accounts, steal data and conduct other malicious activity.”

CIS offers the following tips to help improve security and minimize risks while shopping online:

1.    Secure your computer. Keep your operating system and application software updated/patched. Be sure to check that your anti-virus/anti-spyware software is running and receiving automatic updates. Confirm that your firewall is enabled.

2.    Shop with trusted merchants. Limit your online shopping to merchants you know and trust. If you have questions about a merchant check with the Better Business Bureau or the Federal Trade Commission. Confirm the online seller's physical address and phone number in case you have questions or problems.

3.    Secure your online transactions. If you submit your financial information through an organization's website, be sure to look for indicators that the site is secure. Look for the browser's status bar and be sure “https” appears in the website’s address bar before making an online purchase. The "s" stands for "secure” and indicates that communication with the webpage is encrypted.

4.    Use strong passwords. If you need to create an account using a password with the merchant, be sure to create a strong password. Use at least eight characters, with numbers, special characters, and upper and lower case letters. Don’t use the same passwords for online shopping websites that you use for any other account. Never share your login and/or password.

5.    Avoid scams and fraud. Don’t ever give your financial information or personal information over e-mail, text or by phone. Be aware of unsolicited communications purporting to represent charities. Always think before you click on e-mails you receive asking for donations and contact the organization directly to verify the request.

6.    Do not use public computers or public wireless to conduct transactions. Public computers may contain malicious software that steals your credit card information when you place your order. Criminals may be monitoring public wireless networks for credit card numbers and other confidential information.

7.    Ignore pop-up messages. Set your browser to block pop-up messages. If you get an e-mail or pop-up message that asks for your financial information while you’re browsing, don't reply or follow the link. Legitimate companies won’t ask for financial information in a pop-up message. Close out of the pop-up message by closing out of the browser.

8.    Pay by credit card. Pay by credit card rather than debit card, as credit cards are protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act and may reduce your liability if your information was used improperly.

9.    Keep a paper trail. Print or save records of your online transactions. Carefully review your credit card statements as soon as you receive them to confirm that all charges are legitimate. Contact your credit card company immediately if you have unauthorized charges on your account.

10.    Review privacy policies. Review the privacy policy for the website/merchant you are visiting. Know what information the merchant is collecting about you, how it will be stored, how it will be used, and if it will be shared or sold to others.

About the Center for Internet Security

The Center for Internet Security (CIS) is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to enhance the cyber security readiness and response of public and private sector entities, with a commitment to excellence through collaboration. CIS comprises three divisions: the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center, Security Benchmarks, and the U. S. Cyber Challenge.

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Krista Montie
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