Following Black Friday and after a busy holiday weekend in shopping malls, millions of Americans are expected to log on and keep shopping on the day dubbed Cyber Monday.
Prepare for the online action, which is about to begin. Cyber Monday is the busiest online shopping day of the year, and savvy criminals and hackers are ready to unleash their scams on an unsuspecting public.
As you hunt for bargains this holiday season, take a few minutes to think about online security. Hackers have been working overtime since Black Friday. Therefore...
Beware of phishing. The most common scam is bogus electronic communications that try to get passwords and credit card information by masquerading as trustworthy sites. Never click through links via email to make purchases. Instead, go directly to the websites via your bookmarks, verify the offer and then log in.
Create strong passwords. Difficult-to-hack passwords should be at least 10 characters containing capital and lowercase letters, symbols and numbers. Each extra digit you add makes it that much harder for criminals to crack it. Never use personal information, like pet or kids' names, in passwords.
Verify a secured connection. Look for a little padlock in the browser address bar. If you don't see that, verify an encrypted connection, or Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secured (HTTPS), by making sure the Web address starts with "https://" (the "s" means secured).
Educate yourself. Learn more about online security from the National Cyber Security Alliance at StaySafeOnline.org and from the Department of Homeland Security at: DHS.gov/StopThinkConnect.