Each year, as millions of Americans ready their credit cards to make billions of dollars worth of holiday gifts, an outside threat looms: a possible data breach. Without question, holiday breaches, which in the past have included a hack on Macy’s and Target. However, this year threatens to be significantly more dangerous, as social distancing has led thousands of customers-and their private information- onto the internet.
This year, Deloitte predicts that by the end of the holiday season, $196 billion will be spent online. With that much online spending happening, it’s understandable that the cybersecurity systems for different companies will be strained. Despite programs for securing credit card information and the rise of multi-factor authentication systems, many of these large e-retail sellers simply have targets on their backs for a data breach this holiday season.
Therefore, it’s especially important that consumers bring their own personal vigilance to digital security while online shopping.
First, be smart about which sites you are visiting to shop. Stick to sites you know well and have had safe experiences with and be wary of phishing emails drawing you to visit different sites from your inbox. Sadly, if a holiday deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Another key way to stay safe is to control just how much private information you are sharing with online retailers during the season. Only give them whatever information is actually necessary for your payment and delivery. Know that it may be safer to checkout as a guest versus making an account in the retailer’s system. If you do have accounts with different online retailers, make sure to change your passwords often and see if you can make use of two-factor authentication to log in.
As much preventative care as you can take to make sure that your data isn’t compromised, the unfortunate truth is that you probably will be and have before. (If you want to see the likelihood of being hacked in the past, check out this data breach calculator tool). Throughout the holiday season, and in the months after, make sure you’re monitoring your accounts for suspicious purchases and keep an eye out for the next big data breach that may have hit you.