As we’re in the throes of shopping, traveling, and making all the plans that come along with the holiday season, here at MONTAG, we thought it would be a good opportunity to share some quick tips and reminders for keeping yourself safe from cyber criminals.
It can seem overwhelming to try to keep up with the latest news in the ever-changing landscape of cybersecurity, but what we’ve gathered from speaking with many experts in this field is that the most important defense against cybercrime is simply remaining vigilant and exercising a healthy level of caution on the internet. With that being said, below are three important topics to keep in mind this holiday season.
These days it seems like you have to scan a QR code for just about everything. (I’m a millennial, but can I get a real menu please?) Naturally, cyber criminals have quickly added malicious QR codes into their arsenal. When you are presented with a QR code to scan, stop and think before scanning the same way you would before clicking a link in an email. We recommend, before opening the camera on your phone, to ask yourself questions like:
- Does this QR code make sense to be placed here?
- Does it look like a sticker has been placed over the original?
- Is there another way of getting to the site provided in addition to the QR code?
Phishing Texts (also known as Smishing):
Most of us have become all too familiar with the dangers posed by clicking on a bad link in an email. Known as phishing, these are malicious emails attempting to get private information or infect a device with malware. These days cyber criminals can easily send phishing texts as well. If you receive an unexpected text that asks you to take action, click a link, etc., you should be very suspicious. Below is a real example of a text I received not too long ago. I wasn’t waiting on any packages, so I knew it wasn’t a real text. However, especially during the holiday season when we’re all expecting packages (some that we may have forgotten we ordered…anyone else guilty of this?) texts like these could be convincing. Be on the lookout for signs such as typos, misspelled words, and incorrect domains (**p-sre.com is not the official USPS domain), which could all be indicators that what you received is actually a phishing text.
Many of us use social media to keep up with friends and family, so around the holidays this method of connection can be especially important. It’s vital, however, that each of us keep in mind the type of information we share and how it could be used. Cyber criminals have become very adept at scouring social media for pieces of information that they could later use to craft a convincing phishing email or get a target to trust them. For example, if you post that you had a wonderful break at a particular resort, a cyber criminal may use that information to send you an authentic-looking phishing email that appears to be sent from your recent resort.
Additionally, we have to be careful about what we click on while browsing social media. Unfortunately, social media accounts get hacked all the time. So, if a friend unexpectedly sends you a link for a cruise, you would be wise to contact them using a different method of communication, like calling them, to confirm if the link is legitimate.
At MONTAG, we take cybersecurity very seriously. One of the many tools we use are custom printed stickers located on every computer to continually remind our staff to take the time to think carefully before clicking.
Keeping up with all the steps experts advise to protect yourself against cybercrime can feel overwhelming. But, if you can just remember to take a step back and then proceed with caution, you can feel confident that you and your information will be much safer.
The information provided is for illustration purposes only. It is not, and should not be regarded as “investment advice” or as a “recommendation” regarding a course of action to be taken. These analyses have been produced using data provided by third parties and/or public sources. While the information is believed to be reliable, its accuracy cannot be guaranteed. MONTAG employees do not provide legal or tax advice. For specific legal or tax matters, you should consult with your own legal and/or tax advisors.