Over the holidays, more consumers will shop for deals online than ever before. At the same time new — more secure — point of sale systems in stores will push more criminals to stalk potential victims in cyberspace. In other words, it's a perfect storm for cybercriminal attacks. Full report: http://cnb.cx/1XfJGLv
  1. Think before you click
    Holidays are prime time for phishing emails. "Your email address is in every hacker's database." The FBI puts it like this, "If a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is." Be especially wary of unsolicited emails. "One of the most common themes we see is fake delivery emails."
  2. Check domains
    Hackers can register a site that looks exactly like a big-brand retailer, but is really a front to steal information. "Someone can register, say Amaz0n with a zero instead of an o — if that were one of the example cases — register that domain name for $10 at GoDaddy and set up a site that looks like Amazon and send it out likely through email, to an email list of people that are potentially shopping over the holiday season."
  3. 'Google' brands
    The real site is likely to be the top result, say experts. Here's what the FBI advises: "Log on directly to the official website for the business identified in the email instead of linking to it from an unsolicited email. If the email appears to be from your bank, credit card issuer, or other company you deal with frequently, your statements or official correspondence from the business will provide the proper contact information."
  4. Activate 2-factor authentication
    This is how Amazon explains why its important: "Passwords can get stolen, especially if you use the same password for multiple sites. Adding two-step verification means that even if your password gets stolen, your Amazon account will remain secure."
  5. Be your own detective
    Monitor credit updates and statements with extra diligence around the holidays. "Don't wait until Jan. 15 you pay the bill to check your accounts."
  6. Don't let cybercriminals take your personal data hostage
    The hottest cybercrime tactic plays right into humans' greatest weakness: criminals compromise devices, encrypt the files and demand hundreds of dollars to unlock the encrypted files. To avoid being at the mercy of ransomware, McLaughlin suggests adopting a prevention mindset. That means backing up all your files to a cloud service provider, like Google Drive, DropBox or Box and backing up files offline. "Doing so will allow you to deny the payment," he said.
  7. Protect passwords
    All the experts agree: if you have not changed you passwords for key accounts in a while, change them before the holidays.
  8. Practice cyber-hygiene
    People put preventative maintenance off for as long as possible, and hackers know that. "Take an hour, read that nagging message that your computer has been sending you about upgrading to the latest patch level and push the start button.