Alexa, play “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas by Bing Crosby.”

I hope Rudolph is ready to take flight because the holiday spirit is coming to town! Many shoppers prefer to avoid crowds while shopping from home. Staying in, sipping hot cocoa, and online shopping next sounds pretty good to us.

With this increase in online traffic and the use of various devices, the opportunity of a breach is at an all-time high. It truly is a cyber criminal’s holiday wish come true.

Much like the infamous Grinch, hackers are plotting away, preparing to trick unsuspecting shoppers into giving them sensitive, financial information during the frenzy of holiday sales. The Better Business Bureau reports these online purchase scams as the riskiest form of consumer fraud. If you’re not careful hackers will steal your credentials and drain your bank accounts.

Talk about a “Bah Humbug” Christmas! No one likes to be scammed, especially not during the season of giving. Stay safe online when searching for the best deals by following these top best practices.

1. Use Antivirus / Antimalware Software

This is a must-have for any device. It provides a layer of defense and protects your data against malware and other viruses that are crawling on unstable webpages. Some antivirus solutions will even warn or redirect you from accessing harmful websites. 

2. Credit, Not Debit 

Credit cards are safer than debit cards. Here’s why. When your debit card falls into the hands of a crook, whatever changes they make will immediately leave your account. You are then expected to continue on without that money until the situation is sorted out with the bank. To make matters worse, if the situation isn’t caught within two business days, you may be liable for all fraudulent charges. Credit cards offer more grace in this department. The funds don’t leave immediately and if a fraudulent charge isn’t caught within two days, the most you’d be liable for is between $50-$500. 

3. VPNs Are Your Friend

While coffee shop public wifi seems convenient, it can be dangerous when dealing with personal information. Public wifi or hotspots lack security, so potentially anyone at any time can see what you are doing. You can see how this would be significantly troublesome when entering bank credentials or credit card numbers. Virtual private networks help you protect your data and privacy by encrypting your online traffic and hiding your IP address.

4. Official Retailer Apps 

Mobile apps have made shopping online easier than pie. However, be sure you only download the official retailers’ apps and only from reputable stores like the App Store, Google Play, or Galaxy Apps. 

5. If in Doubt, Throw it Out

Cyber criminals take advantage of the increase of holiday emails that are sent to your inbox. In efforts to trick you, they will cleverly draft phishing emails that mimic those you would normally trust, hoping you will be more likely to open it or click a malware-infested link. If you don’t know the sender, it's best to just delete it. Better safe than sorry. 

6. It's Too Good to Be True

The hunt for the best Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and other holiday sales has become a favorite American pastime. However, if you come across a deal that’s almost too good to be true, it probably is. Ridiculously low offers are there to trick you into entering your information and steal your money.

7. Social Security Scam 

Any reputable retailer will NOT ask for your social security number. If a website ever asks for sensitive information like this, exit out of the webpage and find a more well-known site.

8. How to Spot a Fake Website

The fake, malicious websites are hidden all over the Internet, so it is important to be able to identify these red flags:

    • The URL starts with “HTTP” instead of the correct “HTTPS”

    • There is no padlock icon before the URL bar. This means that the website doesn’t use SSL encryption 

    • Their contact details seem suspicious. For example, instead of seeing “”, you see “

    • The overall layout of the website is of poor quality.

    • The website claims to be a clothing store but sells out of sorts items like cooking ware or car parts. 

9. Lock it Up

Be sure to have strong, unique passwords that use a combination of numbers, symbols, and both lower and uppercase letters. Weak passwords like “password” or “qwerty” just don’t cut it anymore. However, the password “S@nT@$**HelPeR” would be a much stronger alternative.

10. Multi-factor Authentication

Last but not least, protect high-risk accounts with multi-factor authentication. This extra layer of protection requires two of your devices to confirm your identity, effectively safeguarding your sensitive information. This works well for your banking accounts, email, and any work accounts. For greater peace of mind, enable multi-authentication for all accounts that offer it.


Online shopping is a convenient way to do your holiday shopping. Within seconds, you can compare the prices, styles, and colors of a product with ease. Yet, it still carries significant risks when it comes to keeping your information safe. Good thing following the tips above is sure to give you a leg up in defending against cybercriminals’ malicious tactics.

Treat yourself and your business with the best company holiday gift-- cybersecurity solutions! It truly is the gift that keeps on giving.

Give us a call and discover how together we can safeguard your business from all the Cyber Grinches this season.