2020 has been a wild ride of a year, to say the least, for most of us. The ups and downs of the ongoing pandemic and the strain it has put on so many good people have left a lasting impact that won’t soon be forgotten. Families and loved ones across the country are feeling worn and weary, but hope remains, especially during the holiday season.
The New Year always brings a sense of change, optimism, and faith that good things are sure to come. And although this coming change of the calendar year is going to look a little different initially, with New Year’s Eve parties and kissing strangers when the clock strikes midnight surely frowned upon, the hope that we all inch closer to normalcy each and every day is reason enough to celebrate.
Holiday cheer during these trying times can give us all a recommended dose of joy and good spirit that is much needed and well deserved. And although a little time off to reflect on the things you are thankful for and some thoughtful New Year’s resolutions are essential, not letting your guard down when it comes to your personal and online security should remain in your sights. Cybercriminals don’t take time off for the holidays, and the current world climate has an evolving set of risks you need to be aware of.
With that in mind, here are a few security tips to help you start 2021 off right.
Be Aware of the Rise of Social Engineering Scams
The coronavirus pandemic has given cyberthieves new ammunition to pull off attacks and scams that prey on our fears and worries about the situation. Social engineering scams involve deceiving someone into giving out their personal information which can then be used to commit numerous types of identity fraud. Many of these pandemic-related scams turn up in the form of emails claiming to be from a doctor or expert urging you to act quickly by clicking on a link or providing personal information. The scams use scare tactics to lure individuals into acting quickly before the victim even tries to verify that any of the information is real.
As 2021 begins, look for these types of scams to remain consistent as they can be an easy way for cybercriminals to gain access to your personal information or infect devices with malware. Always be leery of all requests for this information, especially if it comes from an unsolicited email that is trying to scare you into action. And never click on a random link that turns up in these emails either.
This year is also turning into a record season for online shopping. Chances are that you will have already completed the majority of your holiday shopping by the time you read this, but the same advice applies to any online shopping you do in the coming year. For an in-depth look at the best ways to safeguard your online security while shopping, click here. In a nutshell, always double check that the site you are ordering from is legitimate, protect your passwords and keep them complicated, and check your bank accounts after making a purchase to double check for any unauthorized activity. For any shopping apps that you use regularly, it’s recommended to use multi-factor authentication for all of your purchases. This provides another layer of security to prevent cybercriminals from using your information if they do happen to gain access to it.
Secure Every Electronic Holiday Gift
Stockings in our digital age are often filled with the latest gizmos, gadgets, and popular electronic devices. Getting a new cellphone, computer, or tablet is always exciting and if you give or receive one, it’s going to be put to use right out of the box. Make sure to set up these new devices with all of the security features that come with them. This means utilizing those Face ID or fingerprint authentications that many modern devices have built into them. At the very least, make sure you use a longer PIN or unlock code and don’t reuse the same one you had on your previous device. And if you are getting rid of your old device, whether by recycling or any other means, make sure you wipe it clean so none of your personal information remains on it.
Always Use A Reliable and Secure WiFi Connection
This tip is going to come into play at some point in 2021 when restrictions ease up a bit and we can all go back out in public. It’s going to be an exciting occasion, but don’t let your guard down. When you make it back to your favorite coffeeshop or local hangout, you need to be careful about any information you give out or transactions you make on a public WiFi connection. These connections aren’t always secure, and you can bet that there will be cybercriminals lurking for this type of opportunity to appear again in the near future. A private network with basic encryption (think login password) might make you believe the connection is secure, but this encryption is fairly easy to crack. For any major transaction or when sending valuable information, it’s always better to do this from a trusted connection and not public Wi-Fi.
Backup Everything and Stay Prepared for Anything
Another timeless online security tip is to back up all of your data often. There is no way to fully prevent a data breach, but you can prepare yourself for it and limit the impact of a threat. Backing up your data gives you access to sensitive information in the event of a ransomware or similar attack where you might lose access to your valuable information. You can back up everything up on a physical external hard drive, in the cloud, or both. This will give you a better way to work towards recovery if you happen to fall victim to identity theft or a data breach.
Following the tips above will help you remain safe and secure in 2021 and beyond. The more aware you are of potential cyber threats, the better suited you’ll be to navigate the situation if it does happen to you. It can happen to anyone, but always remember that we are here to help. Happy Holidays to you and yours from the LibertyID team. We hope the New Year brings joy, health, and happiness.
LibertyID provides expert, full service, fully managed identity theft restoration to individuals, couples, extended families* and businesses. LibertyID has a 100% success rate in resolving all forms of identity fraud on behalf of our subscribers.
*Extended families – primary individual, their spouse/partner, both sets of parents (including those that have been deceased for up to a year), and all children under the age of 25