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December 3, 2020 10 Things

10 Things I know about ... Holiday cyber scams

10) With so many people working from home on all sorts of devices, make sure these endpoints continue to receive the latest security patches and software operating system updates to lessen your chance of compromise.

Michelle Drolet is CEO of Towerwall, a woman-owned, highly focused cybersecurity services company based in Framingham. You may reach her at

9) Avoid running sensitive transactions (like banking) over public WiFi networks that are typically unsecured from eavesdropping. Using your smartphone to set up your own free personal WiFi hotspot is a safer bet.

8) Beyond just using multiple-character passwords, avoid using the same one repeatedly. Use password managers that can generate/store complex and unique passwords not attached to your browser’s own password manager.

7) Keep your guard up on social media and check facts before sharing bogus news, such as COVID-19 cures or other suspect claims. It’s best to keep separate your devices for home entertainment use from those strictly for business and work.

6) Free credit monitoring services provide a way not just to easily access your credit rating but mostly useful for the alerts sent out whenever a credit card is opened or closed.

5) Be careful with messages regarding account updates that request personal information. Cyber-criminals make every attempt to fool people into clicking on links they should not. Always verify the source before taking action. Visit websites you know directly and use official channels to stay informed and updated.

4) Watch out for online holiday greeting cards no matter the person you believe is sending them. As the latest attack vectors for infiltration, these e-cards always arrive with links to unknown places. Trust at your own risk or verify before clicking.

3) Assume every email is a phishing attempt even from addresses you know. Look for strange requests or badly worded messages or requests to download a file. Scammers know people click impulsively without thinking, especially during these harried, pandemic, holiday times.

2) If a holiday item seems too good a deal to believe, then don’t believe it. Some cybersecurity experts suggest shopping only at websites you know and trust.

1) Be suspicious of any discount offers, sweepstakes, giveaways, etc. that seem too generous to be real. These types of baited tricks are common during the holidays.

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