9 Simple Security Steps to Stay Safe Online During the Holidays (Video)

Guest editorial by James Lyne, Global Head of Security Research, Sophos

“The holidays are a heightened time when cybercriminals are using clever phishing emails scams that look like special offers or shipping notices for gifts.

When in reality, these are designed to snare clicks and make you hand over information. Sophos is reminding consumers to pay extra attention to nine simple security steps to stay safe online during the holidays:

  • If an online deal or email offer with price discounts looks too good to be true, it probably is. Hit delete.
  • Be aware of untrusted wireless networks when you’re out shopping with your mobile phone. Consider waiting to enter your credit card information when you get home.
  • Only use trusted merchants to make online payments. Use PayPal or your credit card, not bank debit cards to purchase gifts online.
  • Be on the lookout for Typosquatting. Cybercriminals take a popular online brand and change one letter or two to trick you into clicking and sharing personal information.
  • IoT devices are sure to be on everyone’s list this year, but they are vulnerable to cybercriminals. Before you start using your newfangled device, reset the password. Some, as we’ve recently see with Dyn DDoS attack, are vulnerable to criminal-hacker hijacking.
  • Be sensible about password security. Make account passwords different and difficult to guess. Include upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols to make passwords harder to crack – refer to the Sophos How to Pick a Proper Password video for creating stronger passwords.

  • Cybercriminals intercept data with spyware more than usual during the holidays. Protect against all malware, including spyware, which logs your financial data while you type it into your keyboard, with security software like Sophos Home. Of 1,250 consumers polled in the U.S., U.K., Germany, Switzerland and Austria in a recent Sophos survey, 54 percent perceive spyware as an extremely large cyber security threat. Thirty-one percent of those surveyed consider themselves unprotected, are not familiar with spyware or unsure if they’re protected.
  • Run up to date security software and check out the Sophos Home toolkit videos for tips on blocking spyware and all other malware, detecting and blocking malicious URLs and apps, which could contain ransomware, securing wifi, and ruling out phishy emails
  • At a time of higher than normal e-commerce, criminals have a piqued interest in exploiting online activity. Consumers need to be extra vigilant to protect against cybercriminals who amp up their nefarious ways during the holidays. Be cyber aware and use best security practices.”

(The nucleus of what Sophos does, SophosLabs is a unique mix of automated systems and specialized analysts working 24/7 around the globe to combat internet threats. Courtesy of SophosLabs and YouTube)

About the Author:

James Lyne, director of Technology Strategy at Sophos
James Lyne, director of Technology Strategy at Sophos

James Lyne is global head of security research at the security firm Sophos.

He is a self-professed ‘massive geek’ and has technical expertise spanning a variety of the security domains from forensics to offensive security.

James has worked with many organizations on security strategy, handled a number of severe incidents and is a frequent industry advisor. He is a certified instructor at the SANS institute and often a headline presenter at industry conferences.

James is a big believer that one of the biggest problems of security is making it accessible and interesting to those outside the security industry. As a result, he takes every opportunity to educate on security threats and best practice always featuring live demonstrations and showing how the cyber criminals operate in the real world.

James has given multiple TED talks, including at the main TED event. He’s also appeared on a long list of national TV programs to educate the public including CNN, NBC, BBC News and Bill Maher.

As a spokesperson for the industry, he is passionate about talent development, regularly participating in initiatives to identify and develop new talent for the industry.