Holiday Security – Manage Your Risks

Credit CardsWelcome to the holiday season!  Along with the holiday cheer, parties, presents and spending come some risks of which we should all be aware.  Situational Awareness is a phrase that some might not recognize.  Situational Awareness entails being aware of your surroundings and environment and adapting your behaviors to address the risks being presented.

One special area of interest is web sites.  Some web sites will present offers that seem too good to be true.  If you cannot confirm that you are visiting a web site that you know and trust, be very wary of entering any identifying information about yourself, especially items such as account numbers, social security numbers and credit card numbers.

Another problem that is related to web site scams is unsolicited email messages.  My simple recommendation for this is that any email message that you receive and was not the result of a request on your part, asking for information or prompting you to click a link should be deleted.

In both of these cases, should any situation persist, at a minimum, you can report the offending web site or message to abuse@domain.com where domain.com is the end segments of the sender’s email address or of the web site in question.  Should you believe that a crime has been committed, contact law enforcement.  At Layered Tech, we manage inbound abuse complaints for most of the domains hosted by use and we take complaints very seriously.

One bit of data that the bad guys would like to get is your Credit Card information.  I have already talked about being cautious on web sites and with email.  The same cautionary tales apply to unrequested telephone solicitors.  One of your better defenses against credit card fraud is to examine your charges often.  I make it a point to examine all of my credit card charges at least five times per week.  As soon as I see a charge that is suspicious, I notify the credit card company.  Most are very willing to work with you on fraud issues.

If you do not have a Smartphone or Tablet, you may be receiving one this holiday season.  Between apps that allow you to shop, bank and engage on social media, your device contains a treasure trove of data.  Regardless of when you get your device, I recommend taking the following measures:

  • Lock it – Most devices have either a swipe pattern or PIN or password capability.  Activate this feature as soon as you have your device.  A longer password is better than a four-digit PIN and a complex swipe is better than a simple one.
  • Backup your data – Whether through your synchronization software or other means, do this often.
  • Hang on to your device – If they don’t have it, they can’t use it.
  • Determine how to find it – Using Find My iPhone, Where’s My Droid, Plan B, Lookout or similar apps will allow you locate, message and even wipe your device clean of data, should you lose it.  Of course your data is still backed up if you followed the second step.
  • Report missing devices – Your carrier and local police department may be able to take steps to locate or prevent reuse of your device.

Knowing that you are aware of your surroundings and the value of your data allow you to be a happy and safe holiday consumer.  Here’s to a great start to the holiday season this year!

Image Credit: 401(K) 2012

Jeff Reich, Layered Tech Chief Risk OfficerAbout the Author: As Chief Risk Officer at Layered Tech, Jeff Reich (@LayeredTechCRO+Jeff Reich) drives the company’s security and compliance services and guides risk mitigation efforts for clients. With more than 30 years of experience, Reich is a well-known risk management and security expert in the industry. He holds CRISC, CISSP and CHS-III certifications and is an ISSA Distinguished Fellow.


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