The holiday season is almost here, and even in a recession huge numbers of people will likely be shopping online for gifts this year.
The rush by shoppers to the Web makes the season a great time for online retailers. It’s also a great time for hackers looking to steal data and money from the unwary millions expected to search for great deals online.
The growth of holiday hackers has annually prompted security analysts, identity theft awareness groups and various government agencies to come up with lists of precautions that consumers can take to avoid becoming a victim of online fraud. Such lists can prove a benefit to consumers, but unfortunately some people ignore it.
For those unwary consumers, Computerworld this year offers a handy list of tips that can help maximize the their exposure to online fraud.
Tip #1: Open all attachments from strangers and click on all embedded links in such e-mail messages.
Tip #2 Respond to Dr (Mrs.) Mariam Abacha, whose name is used by many hackers who say they have close friends and relatives in Nigeria who have recently been widowed or deposed in a military coup and need your help to get their millions of dollars out of the country.
Tip #3 Install a peer-to-peer file-sharing client on your PC. and configure it so all files, including bank account, Social Security and credit card numbers along with copies of mortgage and tax return documents, are easily available to anyone on the same P2P network.
Tip #4 Come up with passwords that are easy to crack. It saves hackers from spending too much time and effort trying to access your PC. Clever sequences such as 123456 and abcdef and your firstname.lastname all make fine, easy-to-remember default passwords for you and for hackers.
Tip #5 Avoid installing the latest anti-malware tools and security updates. Keeping operating systems properly patched and anti-virus and anti-spyware tools updated make life hard for hackers. Users can help them out by making sure their anti-virus software and anti-spyware tools are at least 18-months out of date, or not using them at all.