Stay safe on Cyber Monday

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Hey folks, Cyber Monday is only a week away, and since we're all about security here at Barracuda, we thought we'd spend a few minutes talking about what you can do to protect yourself from online scams.

Cyber Monday is the Monday after Thanksgiving, and so named because that Monday has become one of the biggest online shopping days of the year over the past decade. It is preceded by White Wednesday and Black Friday, which are also shopping-related sub-holidays in the larger holiday season. And if you think it's strange that we create holidays to celebrate shopping for other holidays, I applaud you.

So the consumer behavior on Cyber Monday really started to explode in about 2005, when the stars aligned for ecommerce and online financial transactions. Since then, ecommerce juggernauts like Amazon and Best Buy have learned how to target specific consumers with specific product sales. In addition to the traditional Black Friday marketing, now we're dealing with a realm of online shopping promotions that are popping up in our browsers or hitting our inboxes. Let's talk about a few of the ways we can protect ourselves from the bad-guys who are going to use the sub-holiday frenzy to find some new victims.

  1. Harden your computer. Keep your software up-to-date to close security holes. Install or enable your firewall and anti-virus software.
  2. Stick to best practices. Ignore or block pop-ups, use a strong and unique password, and stick to sites that you know are credible. And please for the love of [insert something you love] remember that if a deal looks too good to be true, it is too good to be true.
  3. Avoid clicking on links from email ads. Just don't do it. Go directly to your browser and enter the URL of the advertiser.
  4. Use a secure connection. Make sure you are using https and not http when you shop. If you are shopping through a wireless connection, use a private network rather than an open network.
  5. Use credit instead of debit. As much as I hate credit cards, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention this one because it just makes sense. There are more security protections on credit card transactions than on debit card transactions. So if you're shopping with a card, make it a credit transaction.

A lot of this is basic stuff, but everyone knows that basic stuff gets set aside sometimes. Now is the perfect time to talk to your friends, family, end-users, whatever, about getting this stuff in order. What happens if one of your friends logs on to a website in the middle of a 10 minute lightning sale on an item she's been wanting for months? She's not going to download her updates in the middle of a lightning sale!

The sale waits for no one.

So get this stuff in order now, make sure people are aware of basic security precautions so that they don't buy when their machine is vulnerable. The holiday attackers are out in force, and they know that there are inexperienced shoppers out there. Don't let the bad guys win.

Barracuda offers a range of security products including the Barracuda Web Filter and the Barracuda NG Firewall. Check out the entire line of Barracuda products on our website. Sign up for a 30-day risk-free evaluation unit here.

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