‘Tis the Holiday Cyber Scam Season

By Eric Andring, Information Security Officer, Bell State Bank & Trust

As the holiday season is quickly approaching, so is the holiday cyber scam activity. You can protect yourself from these cyber scams by being more cautious with websites you visit and how you manage your emails.

Most SPAM or Phishing emails are normally an invitation from someone you don’t know but they contain web links that look legitimate. These types of messages often take you to a malicious website that infect your computer with a virus or tries to steal your personal information.

Don’t fall victim to these scams

Here are some of the various holiday cyber scam subjects that can be used to trick you into clicking on a link or opening an attachment:

  • Subject:  The Must-Have Shopping App for Black Friday / Cyber Monday
  • Subject:  Cyber Monday DOOR BUSTERS start online NOW | Plus, FREE shipping!
  • Subject:  Cyber Week Sale
  • Subject:  Facebook Holiday Offers
  • Subject:  Get a $10 Gift Card Today Only at any Company Name Goes Here (see details inside)
  • Subject:  New Cars Deeply Discounted for the Holidays
  • Subject:  You have received a Christmas Greeting Card!
  • Subject:  Cash for the New Year
  • Subject:  Special Xmas Loan offer

Here are eight ways to help you protect yourself from cyber security attacks:

  1. Do not open attachments or click on web links within e-mails unless you are sure the message is from someone you know and trust.
  2. Only go to reputable or “known” websites.
  3. In most cases, the best approach to dealing with suspicious messages is to simply delete them.
  4. Do not click on web links from unknown senders.
  5. Make sure your antivirus program is up to date and that you have current patches for your computer system.
  6. Never reply to unsolicited emails or pop-up websites asking for sensitive personal information.
  7. If you are uncertain about an email you received from a company, protect yourself by going directly to the company’s website or contacting the company directly via phone rather than using a link provided in the email.
  8. Not all websites are secure. Before entering any personal or payment information, make sure to look at your browser bar at the web address.  The URL should start with HTTPS, not HTTP.  Having the “S” on the end is the difference between a secure site and an unsecure site.

Remember:  The integrity of your privacy and computer security depends on your judgment with how you manage these types of events. To read more about how to protect yourself online, please visit the STOP. THINK. CONNECT.™  website which is a national security awareness campaign led by the Department of Homeland Security, the National Cyber Security Alliance, and the Anti-Phishing Working Group.


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