During the holidays it is vital that your even more vigilant during your online activities to protect yourself from scam and phishing attempts. The United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) has published a list of guidelines to help you stay safe online during this period around the holidays.
These phishing scams and malware campaigns may include but are not limited to the following:
- electronic greeting cards that may contain malware
- requests for charitable contributions that may be phishing scams and may originate from illegitimate sources claiming to be charities
- screensavers or other forms of media that may contain malware
- credit card applications that may be phishing scams or identity theft attempts
- online shopping advertisements that may be phishing scams or identity theft attempts from bogus retailers
US-CERT encourages users and administrators to use caution when encountering these types of email messages and take the following preventative measures to protect themselves from phishing scams and malware campaigns:
- Do not follow unsolicited web links in email messages.
- Use caution when opening email attachments. Refer to the Using Caution with Email Attachments Cyber Security Tip for more information on safely handling email attachments.
- Maintain up-to-date antivirus software.
- Review the Federal Trade Commission’s Charity Checklist.
- Verify charity authenticity through a trusted contact number. Trusted contact information can be found on the Better Business Bureau National Charity Report Index.
- Refer to the Recognizing and Avoiding Email Scams (pdf) document for more information on avoiding email scams.
- Refer to the Avoiding Social Engineering and Phishing Attacks Cyber Security Tip for more information on social engineering attacks.
- Refer to the Shopping Safely Online Cyber Security Tip for more information on online shopping safety.
Guidelines and anti-virus/malware software are important elements of staying safe online but you have to mix in common sense and thinking through these your presented with in emails and on web pages before you click that button to go forward. When in doubt just don’t click.
Stay safe out there.