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Stay Cyber-Safe this Holiday Season

December 9, 2022

As the holiday season approaches, the convenience of the online experience is enough to entice anyone looking to save some time. Everything from purchasing gifts to ordering fully prepared meals can be done over the internet, eliminating the need for leaving the house and trudging through cold, crowds, and Covid to take care of the needed preparations. ROIRevolution.com predicts that ecommerce will surge this holiday season, causing a 12% growth and making up 18% of overall holiday sales. With online reigning king, cyber criminals are as prevalent as ever, so it’s important to stay mindful of ways to keep your information and identity protected online. Here are some cybersecurity tips for holiday shoppers to stay safe online this season.

  1. Don’t wait until the last minute

Procrastination has its risks beyond just being left with slim gift pickings. A report from Kaspersky titled, “The cyber risks of last minute holiday deal-seeking” revealed that a shocking 40% of “last-minute shoppers” (defined as holiday shoppers who begin their online present pursuit later than 12/16) are willing to take more risks when shopping, including visiting “sketchy” websites in desperate attempts to find what they’re looking for. Visiting a site whose security certificate has expired or that cannot be verified by your computer’s antivirus software is a great way to open your device up to vulnerabilities and data breaches, and no last-minute gift is worth getting hacked.

  1. Use secure browsing

When shopping online, pay attention to your browser’s search bar. To ensure you’re transacting safely, look for a padlock icon to the left of the website address. This indicates that the website uses Secure Sockets Layers (SSL) to ensure data encryption. Seeing “HTTPS” rather than simply “HTTP” in your search bar is another way to verify that a website uses SSL and is therefore safely encrypted to keep your sensitive payment information safe.

  1. Beware “Grinch Bots”

A 2021 article from Consumer Reports cites automated bots that instantly buy up in-demand items upon the products’ initial release as a challenge for consumers during the online holiday shopping season.  The creators of these bots typically then resell the purchased products for huge markups, or worse, scam buyers out of the product entirely through false promises or payment deception. The best way to avoid falling into the clutches of an item being sold by a bot is to buy straight from the source, whether that be the merchant’s website or a verified third-party seller. Though resellers can be tempting for rare items, it’s not worth getting scammed. Buy early, watch out for bots, and verify the source of each site you visit.

  1. Watch out for phishing attempts!

During the holidays, your inbox is likely inundated with emails from your favorite stores, begging you to click to shop the latest deals and special offers. But beware, as some of these emails may not be what they seem. According to Norton, a leading antivirus software company in the US, some of the telltale signs of a phishing attempt in emails include typos and misspellings throughout the body, unknown senders, suspicious links, or offers that seem “too good to be true.”  For more tips on how to defend against email crimes, check out our 2021 blog from Cybersecurity Awareness Month all about protecting yourself from phishing attacks

  1. Keep passwords unique 

Although it’s tempting to use the same password throughout your accounts to make shopping a breeze, this puts you at greater risk of being hacked. When all your passwords are the same, a hacker only needs to have one to have them all. Try to diversify your passwords and update them frequently to keep cybercriminals on their toes. 


With these tips and enough vigilance, you can ensure that your holiday stays merry and bright this year. Be sure to keep on top of your online activity, and you can stay cyber safe throughout the season. And if these tips resonate with you and you want to do even more to protect cyberspace, consider making it your livelihood! Capitol Technology University offers an award-winning cyber and information security degree program at all levels, available both online and in-person to prepare the next generation of cyber defenders. Visit captechu.edu for more information.