Cyber Criminals love the holiday season. Lots of people are spending large amounts of money online and in-stores for the perfect gifts for their loved ones. When there are so many people making purchases all over the world, there are limitless opportunities to steal information. Data such as credit card numbers and personally identifiable information can be taken and used to make people’s lives difficult during what is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year.
Holidays are the perfect opportunity for hackers to take advantage of unsuspecting consumers, which means that you need to take extra precaution when doing your holiday shopping.
For example: a few years ago Target suffered a massive data breach around the holiday season that exposed many, many customers' personal and financial information. Those exposed consumers were put in peril and likely had their holiday seasons ruined.
Here are some tips on how to be careful both in-store and online.
Check for Encryption Protocol
Before you shop for anything online, look for encryption protocol set up on any retail websites or payment portals. This means that the site has been equipped with HTTPS security protocol, which hides your payment credentials behind a layer of encryption designed to obfuscate your information in the event of a breach. You should only shop via trusted online retailers and not shady unheard-of stores for hard-to-find items.
Shop With Cash
One of the best ways to keep your credit card information safe during the holiday season is to simply buy gifts with actual cash. On the other hand, it can be somewhat risky to carry a lot of cash in case of theft or loss. It’s all about risk management, so only carry what you need.
Utilize Online Wallets
Services such as Apple Pay and Android Pay can act as a go-between for the retailer and your bank account, and as long as you only add cash as part of a one-time addition (so that the app doesn’t store your information), you can effectively limit the risk associated with using these services to make payments. Due to the increase in popularity of smartphones, most retailers accept some form of payment via smartphone app. Just do a little bit of research beforehand so that you’re not caught off-guard when a retailer doesn’t allow it.
With these tips from Macro Systems, you’ll be sure to stay safe during this holiday season.