Christmas is always big in the Philippines. Filipinos are known to enjoy the brightest of holidays, taking it as an opportunity to relax, have fun, and reconnect with loved ones. All that comes with the natural willingness to spend on themselves and others, especially with the convenience of doing their shopping online.
While it is definitely the time to bask in the holiday spirit, the Christmas shopping and giving season is also a time to be extra vigilant about online security. During this time, individuals may be more vulnerable to “holiday scams” that come in the form of special deals and vouchers, online shopping-related scams, advertisement traps, and even fake charities.
Understanding this vulnerability, Ashwin Pal, Director of Security Services for global IT company Unisys shares simple but essential reminders that will surely allow individuals to enjoy Christmas shopping and festivities without falling into the risks of cyber theft and fraud.
CHOOSE APPS CAREFULLY
It may be tempting to download a bunch of apps to sift through the best shopping and travel deals. However, it is best to avoid downloading unnecessary apps, particularly those that have been sent via links or advertisements.
It is recommended to steer away from downloading apps from non-restricted third-party app stores as well. Always use legitimate stores such as App Store and Google Play. This is to reduce the risk of downloading any apps that have compromised security or worse, that may infect devices with ransomware.
While easily forgotten, it is crucial to keep apps and including browsers updated. Aside from topping up with new features, many updates are provided to address security issues. “Failure to update may give criminals with an opportunity to hack into your computer and steal data,” Pal says.
KEEP SAFE WHILE ONLINE SHOPPING
The convenience and quickness of online shopping makes it the perfect way to beat the rush, especially because traffic in the Philippines reaches its worst state during the Christmas season. Without being careful, this may also be hackers’ gateway to individuals’ personal data.
Visiting and subscribing to only legitimate websites or shopping platforms that most people know of is the first step to ensuring cybersecurity while shopping. Links to websites from random emails are best avoided.
Pal also advises individuals to always make sure they are at the correct site by looking for “https://www…” in the address bar. “Note the “s,” means the individual has a secure connection to that site. Look for the lock in the address bar,” he adds.
Learn to gauge how much identification is required. Photos of IDs or credit card information are not to be shared unless one can positively validate the need for these. As an advise, Pal says that “if in doubt, do not provide the information.”
Using adequate account security is also essential. This is maintained using strong passwords and multi-factor authentication for sensitive websites such as those for online banking.
LOCK IN SECURITY OF DEVICES
With the technology and advancement brought to us by mobile phones, it is not new that many now rely on it especially during the holidays. These devices are not just used for gift-shopping but also for contacting friends and family in far-away places. Some even receive or gift themselves new devices which are connected to old devices for easy transferring of data.
All is convenient and fun with these devices especially when security is ensured. Just as apps are supposed to be kept updated, devices’ operating systems must be so as well to make sure any new security features are properly integrated.
Data in all personal devices are also safeguarded through well-known anti-malware products, personal firewalls, or security softwares. These must be kept updated as well.
Passwords for devices including Wi-Fi network and smart devices such as phones, watches and TVs should never be underestimated. Strong passwords with at least 8 characters and a mix of letters, numbers and symbols, plus multi-factor authentication also keep data in these interconnected devices secure.
While all these reminders are strong precautionary measures, unfortunate things can and do still happen. This makes the regular backup of data extremely crucial. Creating a backup of important data allows one to easily recover them in case their personal devices become infected by ransomware.
Being proactive in keeping our personal data safe online even during our breaks can be as simple as the reminders shared. Like all things, using our devices, the internet, and our personal data to shop and make other transactions online require responsibility from the users’ end. By keeping in mind and practicing these measures, Filipinos can ensure that nothing can stop the Christmas fun and festivities —not even threats to cybersecurity.
About Unisys Unisys is a global information technology company that builds high-performance, security-centric solutions for the most demanding businesses and governments on Earth. Unisys offerings include security software and services; digital transformation and workplace services; industry applications and services; and innovative software operating environments for high-intensity enterprise computing. For more information on how Unisys builds better outcomes securely for its clients across the Government, Financial Services and Commercial markets, visit www.unisys.com.
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