K Street Group's Guide to Holiday Season Safety and Security

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Helpful hints, tips, and recommendations geared toward the protection of business and home life and assets

Protecting your most important assets around the globe, 24/7

The K Street Group informs, "the holiday season is notorious for con-artists."

With holiday season in full swing, so are elevated risks of scams, robbery and burglary thefts, the emergence of con-artists, and more. While virtually anyone is vulnerable to such dangers, The K Street Group has generated a list of suggestions vital for the protection of people and assets. This guide is designed for citizens and companies alike to lessen the likelihood of becoming a target and falling victim to these perils.

In a digital age, online holiday shopping has become the norm. While certainly convenient, this strongly desired and frequently utilized luxury simultaneously attracts malicious online hackers. The National Cyber Security Alliance highly recommends ensuring a security suite (firewall, anti-virus and anti-spyware) is installed on electronic devices. In addition to this recommendation, keeping operating systems and Web browsers up-to-date is a must. It is pivotal before diving into a purchase and entering personal and financial information to confirm that the site is secure. In order to check for secureness, locate a closed padlock on the Web browser’s address bar. Also check that the URL address begins with “shttp” or “https,” as this indicates the pending purchase is both encrypted and secure. It is urged to never complete online transactions in unsecured networks.

Moreover, prior to supplying personally identifiable information (pii) or financial information, explore the Website’s privacy policy. It is essential to properly understand how your information will be used, as well as how it will be stored. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, credential stuffing attacks exploded in the past couple of years. Credential stuffing occurs when hackers obtain pii through one of several means, including stumbling upon it in an unsecured web-based storage server. The Federal Trade Commission outlined numerous precautionary measures for protecting pii online: be alert to impersonators, secure social security numbers (1. ask to use a different means of identification, 2. ask why it is needed, how it will be used, how it will be protected), encrypt data, and keep passwords private, among others.

As it pertains to online shopping, printing and saving records of online transactions is encouraged, as is regularly reviewing credit card statements for any fraudulent activity. Furthermore, be aware of online deals on sites and forums that appear too good to be true (they likely are). Using money-wire services makes pii more vulnerable and money transfers should never be carried out to unfamiliar online sellers (unless through an authorized website).

Physically venturing out to stores poses different, though perhaps more significant risks. Locking vehicles and hiding valuables in the trunk or a locked compartment is vital when away from the vehicle, no matter how short a period of time. If shopping before sunrise or after sunset, it is heavily encouraged to park vehicles in well-lit areas, always carving out time to assess immediate surroundings for suspicious persons, vehicles, or other situations. An app utilized by K Street employees and encouraged for public use, Citizen, is a personal safety network that enables individual's protection with features such as real-time 911 alerts and instant help from crisis responders. Citizen is a perfect tool for situational awareness of certain locations, as well as the safe monitoring and tracking of employees, family/friends, and others.

Once submerged in crowded areas, it is equally important to reassess surroundings and keep a close eye out for potential thieves. The holiday season is notorious for con-artists; be cautious of approaching strangers, associated ploys, and distraction techniques that may be motivated by the stealing of money or belongings. When shopping in public, never carry large sums of cash and try to limit carrying substantial valuables or wearing expensive jewelry. There is an additional layer of safety when shopping in numbers; plan to shop with others when plausible, maintaining vigilance.

Home and business safety are other critically important areas of focus this holiday season. While it is obvious to close and lock windows, sliders, and doors when departing for any length of time or during nonoperating business hours, keeping all entrance points to properties always secure is equally paramount. It is further recommended to set indoor and outdoor lights on timers to give the illusion of activity, acting as a deterrent effect.

Contact K Street Group today if amplified security measures are desired to safely and successfully tackle the remainder of this unpredictable year and holiday season.

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Kelly Monahan
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