“Cyber Monday“, the Monday after Thanksgiving when we begin our holiday online shopping activities in earnest, is upon us. More of us than ever will be tickling the keyboards to use this convenient shopping method this year.
One recent survey reported that 55 percent of surveyed shoppers plan to do their holiday shopping online in 2009, up from 49 percent last year. As the number of online shoppers increases however, so do the threats to our online security.
One rising threat is “SideJacking“, as hackers break into a wireless Internet connection to steal data, like credit card numbers. SideJackers frequently target businesses, public hot spots and even residential areas where personal home networks can be discovered and accessed from the street. These threats, plus common phishing scams, malware and viruses, and spyware place personal information at risk for identity theft.
Minimal steps we should all take to secure our home networks include:
- Install and / or update an Internet security and antivirus / antispyware software,
- Set up a firewall for our home network. This will make it difficult for hackers to gain access to valuable personal information.
- Be wary of opening e-mails with attachments that come from unknown sources. They can contain viruses, spyware, worms or other elements that may be harmful to a user’s computer.
- When engaging in online commerce, look for “https” at the beginning of a web site URL to ensure the Web site is secure. Avoid making purchases on sites where URLs that don’t begin with an “https” address.
- Power down your home wireless network if you are going to be away for extended periods of time
The government provides an outline for anyone who thinks his or her data or identity may have been stolen, explaining steps for recourse. More information on avoiding becoming a victim is available at: http://www.us-cert.gov/cas/tips/ST05-019.html.