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Identity and Data Theft Prevention Tips for Your Holiday

11/22/2017  |  By: Mark Burnette, CPA, CISSP, CISM, CISA, CRISC, CGEIT, ITIL, QSA, Shareholder, Practice Leader of Risk Services


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Identity theft and fraud are always risks online, but never more so than when you’re shopping, because that’s when individuals are putting their personal and financial information out there online in search of the best deal. “Individuals should be aware of the potential for data theft and selective of where they do their online holiday shopping, and companies should implement safeguards and policies to protect business systems and sensitive data,” said Mark Burnette, Partner, LBMC Information Security. 

Using an outdated browser and clicking on a web page booby-trapped with a hidden virus can turn control of your computer over to an intruder. Online transactions conducted via iPhone, Android, and Windows Smartphones have also become a target. Cyber thieves have identified these new mobile device-enabled services as the source of valuable personal data, particularly logons to banking and shopping accounts.

LBMC Information Security, a division of LBMC, PC has tips to keep your holiday shopping a joyful occasion:

  1. Always ensure that a web site is using encryption before transmitting any sensitive information to protect that information in transit. To determine if encryption is used on a site, look for the padlock icon or check the web site address and make sure that it says “https:” before the site address.
  2. Consider using third party checkout methods like PayPal rather than providing a website with your payment information directly.
  3. Shop reputable online stores. If you’ve never heard of the web site you’re shopping on, do some investigation before providing any of your private information to the site.
  4. Use strong passwords for online sites, and use a different password for each site. Use password management software to keep up with the various passwords for each site.
  5. Ensure that your operating system, Internet browser, and other “plug-in” software such as Java and Adobe Reader have the latest updates and security installments. 
  6. Be wary of clicking on links to shopping sites or “hot deals” that arrive via e-mail because they may take you to a hacker’s fake site rather than the real shopping site. Instead of clicking the link, open your web browser and type the site’s address directly into the address bar.
  7. Be aware of the protections your credit card offers in the case of fraud. 
  8. Keep a record of your online transactions and review your credit card statement for unauthorized charges. 

LBMC's Information Security team can help you assess your risks and ensure that your security efforts produce the greatest benefit and have the most effective impact.