Holiday Security

As we continue into the holiday season, it is worth listening to the Virtualization and Cloud Security Podcast from last December on consumer and holiday security. Consumer security is not the antithesis of IT security, but it is something every consumer should be concerned about. Here is our short list of annual education items. In essence, protect yourself! You really do have the tools and knowledge to do so. So, with no further ado, here is the list of security items any consumer can implement.

The list includes situational awareness, the network, and even physical security:

  • When ordering packages online, use well-known locations on the web. This is not the season to try a new vendor; go with the ones you know deliver and have good customer service. Be careful of the dark alleys on the Internet.
  • Track your packages for delivery. Know where they are at all times. Sometimes my packages end up at my neighbors’ place, and if I don’t track them, I might not know they have been delivered.
  • Track your payments. Get alerts any time money leaves your account (if using a debit card) or whenever a charge is made. Most banks and credit cards have such alerts.
  • Pay attention to your credit score using any number of tools. Your bank may actually provide this service.
  • If possible, use a wired connection to place orders that access your bank and credit card accounts.
  • Review your credit card accounts daily!
  • Review your bank accounts daily!
  • Know when packages are arriving, and have someone there to bring them inside when they arrive. If no one is around, ask a neighbor, and if that is not an option, have the packages delivered to the local office so you can pick them up. Do not let your packages stay outside where they are visible to others.
  • When shopping, bring only the items you need with you: ID and credit or debit card or cash.
  • Use an eight-digit or longer PIN for your devices, and disable thumbprint and face-scanning technologies.
  • Deconstruct all boxes before putting them out on the curb. Better yet, make sure they all fit within your recycling container
  • Do not talk about your gifts, giving, children, or family outside of your family and immediate friends. Limit such discussions to safe locations. The local coffee shop or store is NOT safe.
  • Refrain from posting pictures of your presents, family, etc. from anywhere.
  • Refrain from telling the world about your new possessions on social media.
  • Refrain from announcing to the world on social media that you are traveling, and don’t tell anyone else who doesn’t have a need to know.
  • Tell the local police if you are traveling. Include information on where you are going, when you will be back, etc.
  • If you are traveling, stop your mail, paper, and other deliveries.
  • Make it look like someone is home. Perhaps find a house sitter or friend who can come over and turn on and off the lights as appropriate, or get a timer that has delays embedded. Turning off the lights at the same time every night is a dead giveaway.
  • In essence, do not overshare.
  • Get to know your neighbors well before the holidays.
  • Before accessing your wireless in your home, look out the window for cars or trucks you do not recognize.
  • When you park a car, park it under lights, and be careful unloading and loading your purchases. Avoid dark areas.

If you look at the list, most of it is about situational awareness. Know what is happening around you in the physical world as well as in the virtual world of the Internet. The advice your parents gave you and that everyone gives you to protect yourself is to avoid walking down the dark alleys of the world.

This still holds true today. So, what else do you do? What places and things do you avoid? Let us know; sharing is a form of consumer protection as well.

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