‘Tis the season to be cyber aware: 9 tips from BCIT computer crime experts

With the holiday season approaching and consumer shopping behaviour trending online, BCIT computer crime experts are reminding everyone to stay vigilant to the tricks and actions of cybercriminals, who will be busy targeting and looking for ways to steal personal and payment information online.

Before you make a purchase or share your personal information online, it’s important to “think before you click”. Be cyber aware and protect your identity by following these tips:

Pay attention to the URL

  • Double-check the URL you are connecting to, ensure it is the correct website and not a fake one created by an cybercriminals. A website’s URL can tell you if it is a secure site if it starts with “HTTPS”.
  • Look for the small padlock that appears to the left of the web address. A padlock doesn’t guarantee security, but is a good first step when validating a site is secure.

Hover with your mouse above the link before clicking on it

  • If you do so, you will be able to see on the bottom left corner of your internet browser where the actual address will take you. If that address looks different from what you would expect – don’t click on it.

Think before you click on pop-up ads

  • While you’re browsing for a product, pop-up ads often appear on your screen. If you are using an unknown e-commerce site, you should think twice before you click on the pop-up. Some of these pop-ups may take you to malicious sites or open you up to cyberattack. If the pop-up is from a company that you are familiar with, such as Amazon or eBay, this is a better indication of security.

Ensure your operating system, software, and antivirus are up to date

  • When your devices and software are updated with the latest operating systems and security patches, they will be less vulnerable to cyber attacks.

Don’t fall for holiday cyber scams

  • Spoofed websites (fake shopping sites designed to appear legitimate), phishing emails, or deals that seem too good to be true are examples of how cybercriminals trick online shoppers. Watch out for the signs and avoid becoming a victim.

Use credit cards to pay for online purchases

  • This is the safest online payment method since credit cards generally offer protection in case of fraudulent use. Do not store your credit card information with any online vendor.
  • Services like PayPal are also a good way to pay online because they hide your credit card number, which serve as a secondary layer of protection.

Don’t use public Wi-Fi for shopping

  • One of the easiest ways to steal your personal information is through a hacked public Wi-Fi network.

Use a strong and unique password

  • Use a strong, unique password for each online account. Do not store them in your browser; instead, store them in a password manager. This way, if one account is compromised, the others will be safe.

Check your credit card statements regularly

  • If you notice any discrepancies or purchases you have not made, contact your credit card company immediately.

Visit BCIT Be Cyber Aware for additional resources to support your awareness on cybersecurity-related topics.

From Computing to Forensics, BCIT offers a number of programs to equip graduates with skills and knowledge to be job-ready for an in-demand and dynamic career in the field of cybersecurity. Explore cybersecurity-related programs available at BCIT, including options from Part-time Studies.

Note to media: Ilia Lvovski, BCIT Digital Forensics and Computer Crime expert and instructor, is available to speak about tips to be cyber aware during the holiday season and topics related to mobile security. Please contact Amy Chen, 778-384-7245, to schedule.

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