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              Media Alert: Tips for a Safe and Enjoyable Online Shopping Experience this Holiday Season

              Black Friday and Cyber Monday are just around the corner. What could make a convenient online shopping experience turn into a real hassle? While a late purchase delivery might make anyone sweat, a successful cyberattack on a personal computer, tablet or smartphone resulting in stolen personal and financial information can ruin the holidays and wreak havoc on personal credit.

              With Black Friday and Cyber Monday kicking off the holiday shopping season, online shoppers are reminded to take extra precautions to ensure that they have a safe and secure online shopping experience. Follow and share these tips for safe online and mobile shopping from Dennis Dwyer, a senior security researcher on the SecureWorks® Counter Threat Unit™ (CTU) research team, to avoid the cybersecurity headaches this holiday season.

              1. Make sure your device’s operating system, antivirus, and malware detection software is patched and up to date. Also, keep your browser and browser plugins (document viewers, music and video players, and rich content applications) patched and up-to-date. 
              2. Beware of free wireless access.  Cafes and restaurants commonly offer free wireless Internet access. Public networks introduce a variety of risks. An attacker may eavesdrop on information sent or received, resulting in a loss of confidentiality. ONLY use a trusted network when shopping online or performing ANY financial transactions.
              3. Always type the web address of your favorite shopping websites into your browser. Online ads and emails may direct you to bogus sites designed by cybercriminals to extract personal information.
              4. When making online purchases, look for HTTPS in the URL window. The extra “S” after HTTP lets you know the website provides a layer of security.
              5. Be cautious using websites, online ads or unsolicited emails with free offers or big discounts. Also, do NOT click on links or attachments in emails, which could infect your computer with malicious software.
              6. Make online purchases using a credit card with a small credit limit. This minimizes your potential exposure.
              7. Be wary of holiday greetings, news and pictures that include links or attachments. Verify the legitimacy with the sender before opening.  Your friends’ email address books could have been hijacked by attackers.
              8. Never respond to emails from a bank or any financial institution that asks for account or personal information. Financial institutions rarely ask customers to update information via email, and they never ask you to disclose sensitive information via email.
              9. Avoid using weak or default passwords for any online site. Use a different password for each site; store your passwords securely; and auto-generate new, strong passwords with a passport management tool like LastPass or KeePass.
              10. When possible, use a computer dedicated solely for accessing financial accounts, online purchases and paying bills. This computer should not be used for surfing the Internet or for emailing, the primary vectors for infecting your computer. This computer should also be used on a trusted network.