The festive season is in full swing, filled with joy and the spirit of giving. However, lurking in the shadows are unseen cyber threats waiting to take advantage of this time of the year, your goodwill, and the joy you bring to those around you.
Fear not, though, as understanding these threats is the first step toward protecting yourself. Keep on reading, and if you resonate with any of the situations, act to save your time, money, and spirit of the holiday.
The holiday season often involves running errands, spending time away from home, and connecting to public WiFi networks. Unfortunately, many of these networks are unsecured, leaving you vulnerable to cyber snoops and hackers aiming to access your data and online activities.
While public WiFi can be a great help, it is also a hunting ground for hackers and identity thieves looking to use your credit card information to buy presents for themselves.
Here are three situations when you must be extra cautious:
- Staying connected with friends and family. The holidays are a time to connect with loved ones, whether it's through texting, emailing, social media, video calls, or visits. While sharing holiday greetings and updates, be mindful of what network you connect to.
- Travelling. Airports and hotel WiFi networks can be hunting grounds for hackers and identity thieves looking to exploit unsuspecting users.
- Last-minute online shopping. The holiday rush often leads to last-minute online shopping, and you might grab a coffee at a local shop while making those crucial purchases. Be particularly prudent when using public WiFi for activities such as checking your bank balance or making last-minute purchases, as these actions could be visible to cyber snoops looking to intercept your sensitive information.
Connecting to unsafe networks opens the door for hackers to access personal info on your device. In this vulnerable situation, a hacker, acting as a man in the middle, can gain access to all information from your internet activity, such as online payment info, emails, login credentials, and photos. It also allows threat actors to distribute malware on your computer. Once a hacker has your personal info, they can steal your digital identity, act on your behalf, shop with your credit cards, and log in to your personal accounts.
#1: Update Operating Systems and Passwords
Make sure your smartphone, computer, laptop, and tablet operating systems are updated. This will patch security weaknesses, fix bugs, add new features and shield you from hackers looking to exploit an outdated and vulnerable security flaws. Update passwords for all important accounts, especially for accounts from online merchants, using a strong combination of at least 10 characters with an uppercase letter, number, and symbol.
#2: Avoid Unsecured Public WiFi
Refrain from connecting to unsecured public WiFi networks, especially for banking or shopping. Turn off WiFi when not in use, and disable auto-connect to WiFi and Bluetooth features to enhance your security.
#3: Always Use Secure Payment Options
Before providing personal or financial information, double-check that you are interacting with a reputable, established vendor. Make sure your information is being encrypted.
Many sites use a secure sockets layer (SSL) to encrypt information. Indications that your information will be encrypted include a URL that begins with "https" (instead of "http") and a padlock icon. If the padlock is closed, the information is encrypted.
If you want to spend less time worrying about your privacy and data and more time enjoying holidays, consider using Bitdefender VPN. It can benefit you in several ways, and during this season, there are some specific reasons you might want to use one.
It encrypts your traffic, securing public WiFi networks, so you can safely use Internet connections at cafes, airports, and malls.
|Without a VPN
|With a VPN
|- Data that gets out of your device can be public and open for anyone to read.
|- No one can even see which websites you’re connecting to
|- You might connect to a hacker's fake WiFi hotspot, setup just to snoop on your info.
|- You connect to a single VPN server, and all your traffic is routed through an encrypted tunnel to the server.
|- Your traffic could be redirected to the wrong place (fake websites).
|- All data you send is encrypted and impossible to access and understand by others.
In conclusion, as you navigate the holiday activities, from shopping and visiting friends to enjoying a coffee at your favorite spot, remember to include Bitdefender VPN to protect what matters most - your security and peace of mind. Stay safe and enjoy a worry-free holiday season!