Cyber security: ‘Tis the season for phishing


During the holiday season, there is a massive influx of people traveling and purchasing/shipping goods and gifts. This time of the year is a magnet for cybersecurity scams as cybercriminals try to take advantage of all the distracted users. These criminals are no longer only preying on the older, less technologically advanced crowd; they are now attacking folks of all ages from all angles including Facebook, Venmo, PayPal, email and more.

As the IT director for a company with employees all over the United States and Canada, we have a bit more of a challenge when it comes to these cyberbullies. Our company specializes in sensitive topics which include health care and banking, and it is of upmost importance that we keep both our clients’ and our employees’ information safe and protected at all times.

That being said, your team of IT professionals can put as many systems in place to protect you, but there are still things to be on the lookout for to protect yourself and both your work and personal data during this season.

More emails, more problems

Keep an eye out for fake coupons, unbelievable promotional deals or even fake shipping notices or greeting cards sent by cybercriminals! Always remember to stop, look and think before clicking on links. Verify it is legitimate by going directly to the merchant’s website instead of using the link you were sent.

Notification fatigue

Because you receive so many notifications, you may become fatigued by them and let your guard down. Cybercriminals take advantage of this by repeatedly spamming you for access to an account. Never assume that notifications are safe.

Gift card scams

Gift card purchases are like cash and cannot be tracked. Once the cybercriminals have your money, there is no way to get it back. Only purchase and use gift cards with the authorized retailer.

Use your company’s VPN

Your company’s virtual private network (VPN) is put in place to encrypt and disguise your online identity, making it more difficult for third parties to track your activity and steal your data. Use it. Whether you’re at home, in a coffee shop or working at an airport, the VPN can protect you and your company.

Invest in protection programs

There are programs set up to protect you and your online identity from hackers and cybercriminals. One such program is LifeLock. Some companies actually offer these programs as part of a benefits package for their employees. There are many other programs out there that will help protect you against online threats; LifeLock is one of many.

Here at Flint, we wish you a happy holiday season and remember, stay safe, stay alert and stay secure!

Nick Olerud

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