"Credential harvesting and electronic social engineering (phishing) are still the top techniques used during any electronic attack that is why it is very important to safeguard your information and reset your passwords during the holiday season," said Chad Holmes, Principal and Cybersecurity Leader at Ernst & Young LLP. "Cyber Monday is a perfect annual reminder for people to update their cyber security hygiene like passwords to ensure they provide a strong defense against attacks from cybercriminals."
According to the National Retail Federation, holiday sales are expected to reach $656 billion dollars, with than 50% of shoppers intending to shop online. EY believes the high levels of online holiday shopping activity leaves cybercriminals plenty of opportunity to wreak holiday havoc.
While making sure your password is strong, secure and up-to-date is crucial, EY cybersecurity services, which help defend global organizations from hackers, recommends consumers take these additional steps to enhance their personal cyber security:
- Always vary your passwords: Having the same password for social media accounts, bank accounts and online shopping sites is common practice, but a criminal cracking the code in just one of those places leaves a consumer's entire identity at risk.
- Keep your passwords strong: Password or ABCD1234 won't fool anyone. Worried about forgetting, multiple, complex passwords? Use a password manager/aggregator. Just remember to keep the master password strong.
- Don't take shortcuts: Holiday ads appearing around the web, including on social media sites, normally have malicious activity hiding behind that link. It may seem convenient to click on an ad, but it's safer to go directly to the site where you want to make a purchase.
- Be suspicious: Don't remember spending $5 dollars at that coffee shop? Chances are, you did not. Hackers often spend small amounts on stolen accounts to see if the victim will notice. Report any unusual activity immediately and watch your account activity very close during the holidays.
- Make sure your device is sound: It's important to have up-to-date anti-virus software on your computer and use private browsing features when shopping online. If you're updating or buying software for the first time, always go directly to the provider site. Fake security software are a common hacker ploy.
- Never give out personal information: You don't need to give your social security number to buy a pair of jeans. If a website ever asks for this type of information, steer clear.
- Make sure the retailer has done its part: If you don't see a lock icon in the URL of the website you're shopping on, you should not be shopping there. A lock in the URL indicates the website is encrypted.
"Many people will spend more money online on Cyber Monday than at any other time of year," said Holmes. "As such, it is perhaps the best time to check when you last updated your password and your security controls on your devices. If you have not done so since Cyber Monday last year, then we urge people to update their password and take all the other steps they can to ensure their information is protected."
EY is a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. The insights and quality services we deliver help build trust and confidence in the capital markets and in economies the world over. We develop outstanding leaders who team to deliver on our promises to all of our stakeholders. In so doing, we play a critical role in building a better working world for our people, for our clients and for our communities.
EY refers to the global organization, and may refer to one or more, of the member firms of Ernst & Young Global Limited, each of which is a separate legal entity. Ernst & Young Global Limited, a UK company limited by guarantee, does not provide services to clients. For more information about our organization, please visit ey.com.
This news release has been issued by Ernst & Young LLP, a member of the global EY organization that provides services to clients in the US.
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