Holiday online sales are already beginning for the holiday shopping season, we even just received a mailer today talking about how “Black Friday Starts Now”. Even if you only shop at “reputable” online companies… they are not immune to getting hacked, and some are even famous for having spoofed email ads distributing malware and viruses to end users, or even embedded third-party ads right on the site that contain newer viruses not yet known to virus detection systems. Yes, you can get a virus from just visiting a site – on Windows, MacOS/iOS, Android, and even Linux distros. So, what are some things you can do to assist in not having your holiday shopping turn from fun and joy to a nightmare in the New Year?
- Make sure you have the latest security releases, patches, and other updates applied not just to your operating system (i.e. Windows, MacOS/iOS, Linux distros, Android, etc), but also your internet browser (Microsoft Edge, Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, Safari). Sadly, you’re at the mercy of your provider most of the time in regards to making sure your handheld devices are up-to-date with the latest security updates, though you can still install anti-virus protection.
- Have a high-quality anti-virus program installed, running, AND up-to-date. It doesn’t matter if you are running a Windows operating system, a Linux distro, Android, or MacOS/iOS. All of them can and do get viruses. It’s also not a bad idea to do a full virus scan of your device as a precaution. If you have any suspicion that your device is compromised… do not use it until it has been inspected and found to be clean.
- Make sure any page you are entering your Credit Card information into is “https”. Now, keep in mind, not all https sites (or certificates) are designed equally, and just because a site has https enabled, does not mean that the coding on the site is the best, or that their back-of-house processes are up-to-par. We actually stopped working with a product vendor on the health branch of the company because in the shipping “stuffing” that they had in the box when we received an order from them was shredded credit card numbers from orders they had received online.
- Use Prepaid cards, or trusted online payment processing systems like PayPal (but make sure it’s actually going through PayPal, and not a look-a-like site), to do your online shopping.
- When shopping in-person at busy places, like malls or special shopping events like expos, have your RFID-enabled credit cards in RFID Sleeves. According to Consumer Reports, you can make your own RFID sleeve by wrapping those RFID-enabled cards in a thick piece of aluminum foil and it will work just as well as most of the ones you can buy on the market today.
- Don’t give your information out over the phone to someone who called you. Remember, and repeat again – Microsoft will not call you!
- Have strong passwords.
- Monitor credit reports and financial statements.
- Setup alerts with your credit card companies that if there is unusual activity on your card, that you are notified immediately via email, text, or phone.
- If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- and last, but not least… when in doubt – shop in-person with a trusted local business that you want to see stay in business for years to come. We know those businesses will appreciate it. Metro IBA has a website with many local businesses here in the Twin Cities, and Natural Awakenings Twin Cities also has their own online Community Resource Guide, as well as the in-print version in the back of the magazine (also available online here: http://www.natwincities.com/ and click on the Digitial Edition and 2017 Annual Directory Edition). Another is the Twin Cities Holistic & Greener Business Directory.
If you need help with making sure your computer is healthy enough and in peak performance for the holiday shopping season activities, or for any other time of year, come in for either the Computer Tune-up or Virus Removal service. Both services are similar, and also can often be done remotely. With the tune-up service we do check for viruses, and with the virus removal service, we do re-optimize the machine once we are done. We essentially have them listed as two different services because that’s easier for most end users to understand. Our thing is – we want your computer to be at its best when it leaves our care.
Wishing you and yours the best during this Holiday Season and beyond… SchaOn & André.