How to enjoy a hacker-free holiday while shopping online

Posted at 9:49 AM, Nov 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-26 19:13:25-05

NORFOLK, Va. - The holiday shopping rush is on, and that means more and more people are heading to their computers to buys gifts for loved ones.

Forrester expects online holiday shopping to grow to $151 billion this year, up 14% from $133 billion in 2017.

Related: Black Friday sales could hit a record $23 billion 

Research from the National Cyber Security Alliance found that more than a third of respondents planned to buy internet-connected gadgets this season, but only a quarter were "completely confident" that their devices would be free from viruses and malware.

“We often are asked what simple steps folks can take to help themselves and their families stay safer and more secure online. Keeping software current is always at the top of the list,” said Russ Schrader, executive director for NCSA. “As the shopping season kicks into full gear, we remind everyone to ‘keep clean machines’ and ensure that all their software and systems are updated.”

Related: Smart holiday spending with credit cards

Here are the top cyber safe shopping tips from the NCSA:

  • Join Update Cat and his feline friends and #UpdateMeow: Before going on the prowl for that gotta-get gift, help protect all web-connected devices with the latest updates for your security software, web browser and operating system.
  • Lock down your login:One of the most critical things you can do in preparation for the online shopping season is to fortify your online accounts by enabling the strongest authentication tools available, such as a unique one-time code through an app on your mobile device. Your usernames and passwords are not enough to protect key accounts like email, banking and social media.
  • When in doubt, throw it out: When everyone is busy and preoccupied with friends, festivities and holiday fanfare, links in emails, posts and texts are often the ways cybercriminals try to steal your information or infect your devices.