With songs about Christmas and the holidays blaring from nearly all radio stations, on my drive into the office each day, I can't help but sing along and keep beat to each tune by tapping my steering wheel with my gloved fingers. One of my favorite songs is the "12 Days of Christmas," because, quite frankly, it’s fun...especially when singing it with a group of people who are trying to remember if ladies dancing comes before or after pipers piping, or maybe it’s lords a leaping!
Keeping to the theme of the song, over the next 12 days, I’ll be posting my own version of the "12 Days of Christmas" in terms of safety and security, the “12 Days of Security,” where I’ll be sharing unique, usable security and safety tips for the holidays.
Be sure to check back each day for updated safety and security tips, and to see what kind of silly verse I can think of next!
On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me an antivirus software suite. (Probably because he knows I’m an online shop-a-holic!) So, before trekking out online to do some last-minute holiday shopping be sure to:
- Update your antivirus software to help protect your computer against possible infection;
- Back up all your confirmations of purchase by saving them on a jump drive or in the Cloud. Should a virus destroy your hard drives files, you’ll have a back-up copy; and
- Resist the urge to open, download or run any files or email attachments, even if they do promise 90% off your purchase! Hackers are very clever and can attach malware to these files that will infect your computer upon opening, possibly giving unauthorized access to your system, even with antivirus protection.
On the second day of Christmas a random person stole from me, my i—den—i—ty!
Ahhh…the holidays! Time for sleep deprivation, running around, shopping, errands, parties, time with family and friends, and the list of “to-do’s” goes on and on…and on! Throw a little frazzled stress into the mix, and you have the perfect recipe for crooks to steal your identity!
The following security tips will help you keep your identity safe this holiday season:
- Open all holiday e-cards by going to the greeting card company’s site to enter the card number given in your email. Never click on links in your email telling you that you have an e-card because identity thieves send out digital season’s greetings loaded with viruses, malware and spambots.
- The bad guys are sending out bogus shipping alerts that look like the ones from FedEx, UPS or the USPS, hoping you will click the link so malware can be loaded onto your computer. Use only the tracking number provided in your initial confirmation email, and always go to the store, FedEx, UPS and/or the USPS' website to track your packages.
- Leave your identity at home when going holiday shopping. Only take your driver’s license, two credit cards and your smartphone with you to retail stores. The more you leave at home that identifies who you are, the better.
On the third day of Christmas three burly burglars, broke into my home! And, just like the Grinch, they stole my Christmas…starting with my stockings!
“They slid down my chimney, a rather tight pinch.
They got stuck only once, for a moment or two.
Then they stuck their heads out of my fireplace flue, where all my little stockings hung in a row.
‘These stockings,’ they grinned, ‘are the first things to go!’"
Tips to keep the Grinch and all the other grinches (aka burglars) out of your house this holiday season:
- Grinches look for homes that allow easy access, because in actuality, they are quite lazy. Place your tree and gifts away from windows that are easily accessible from the outside. Grinches tend to break windows, reach in and grab gifts.
- Because Grinches prefer to force their way into homes through doors, install a high-quality, security door brace at the base of the interior of your entry doors that can withstand at least 1800 pounds of force.
- Grinches are very sneaky and do not like loud noises. Treat all your windows and glass doors with protection film. This makes the glass hard to break without a significant noise-producing effort, which will give the grinch a good reason to leave your premises to avoid getting caught.
- Grinches love to rummage through trash, so do not place empty boxes from expensive gifts, like TVs, Playstations or other electronic devices, on the street with your garbage. This alerts grinches that you may have valuable items inside your home, tempting them to break in. Instead, break down the boxes, cut them up and conceal them in large plastic garbage bags before placing them inside your garbage can.
On the fourth day of Christmas a spammer offered me four Playstation 4’s (both for free, no strings attached, just fill out this form with my credit card number attached – for identity purposes, of course…yeah right!!) Say “hello” to phishing emails, and…
Say “good-bye” to them with these tips:
- If it’s too good to be true, then it probably is! (Seriously, who would be giving away four Playstation 4s?!) Be very suspicious of unsolicited emails from anyone.
- When shopping online and you must provide your credit card number to make a purchase, be sure the URL begins with “https,” not “http,” and look for the padlock icon, usually in the lower right corner.
- Never, never, never reveal personal or financial information via email or respond to email solicitations for this type of information.
- When in doubt, ask! Did you receive an amazing holiday offer in your inbox that seems unbelievable that you’d like to take advantage of? Be bold! Contact the company directly to verify if the email solicitation (or requests) is legitimate.
On the fifth day of Christmas my boss surprised me with five gift certificates (each with $100…hey that’s 500 bucks…to places like Starbucks and Pluckers and JC Penney’s and such!)
What a wonderful boss, right? I’d have to say so, but remember the holidays can make people do crazy things! Here are some security and safety tips to think about in an office environment this time of year:
- Do not display your presents, wrapped or unwrapped, in your office or cubicle. This only tempts dishonest co-workers.
- Do not leave your wallet or purse exposed in your office of cubicle. Gentlemen, remember to remove your wallet from your jacket pocket when hanging it on the back of a chair or door. Ladies, I suggest putting your purse inside one of your desk drawers.
- Be leary of people dressed in bogus uniforms like delivery or repair people as they may be crooks, seeking entry into your office.
- See a solicitor? Quick do NOT make eye contact! HA! Do not engage in conversation with solicitors. Refuse to view their merchandise or listen to their sell spiels because these people may be casing your office for forced entry at a later time.
- Are you being a good employee this year? Working late? First of all, don’t forget to tell Santa! But, more importantly, be sure to park in a well-lit area, away from possible hiding places like bushes, dumpsters and dark corners so that you can safely return to your vehicle when leaving work.