Editor’s note: ‘Tis the season for online shopping, and our very own security guru, Jay Opperman, is getting into the holiday spirit with his take on a holiday classic: the 12 days of Safety Tips. Grab a mug of cocoa, log onto your favorite online retailer, and read the 12 tips to make sure your holiday is happy and bright.
Day 1 — Install reputable anti-virus software.
Most Internet security solutions provide a variety of tools to help consumers keep their home computers safe from online threats. Up-to-date anti-virus software will detect and remove viruses and keyloggers that can steal consumers’ identities when they use their bank or credit cards online. Be sure the software is set to run automatic updates so you won’t have to remember to do a virus scan on your own.
Day 2 — Use anti-phishing software.
Phishing is a term used for Internet scammers who imitate legitimate companies in e- mails to entice people to share their user names, passwords, social security numbers, bank account information, or credit card numbers. Install anti-phishing software to help prevent these kinds of online scams. Most anti-virus programs contain anti-phishing software and alerts that help detect phishing scams.
Day 3 — Stay informed.
Knowledge is crucial in order to protect yourself against online dangers. For example, with Comcast’s Security Channel, www.comcast.net/security, consumers have access to the latest security information including: the most recent security alerts, tips, tools, and resources to be sure you are safe online.
Day 4 — Choose a secure password.
While a simple password may be easy to remember, it also makes cyber crimes a cinch for online thieves. A secure password combines different numbers, letters and symbols and the longer the password, the better. Avoid using the same password for more than one function.
Day 5 — Get protected with a firewall.
A firewall will also help prevent against network intrusion by monitoring the data that passes between your computer and the Internet. Most reputable security software suites include firewall protection, but make certain that the software you purchase includes a firewall since it’s one of the first lines of defense for online safety.
Day 6 — "S" means "secure."
When shopping on the Web, be sure you see https (the "s" stands for "secure") at the beginning of the URL for any page where you plan to enter financial information.
Day 7 — Look for a lock icon.
When you’re online, look for the lock icon that is normally located in the window of your Web browser. A secure site will allow you to click on the lock icon to see details of the site’s security. Be aware that there are fraudulent Web sites that will have an imitation lock icon.
Day 8 — Secure your wireless network.
When using a wireless network, always secure it with a password to make sure others cannot access your personal information without your knowledge and permission. Apartment dwellers or those living in densely populated neighborhoods are especially vulnerable.
Day 9 — Stay private in public.
Do not enter personal information on computers or wireless networks that are not under your control, such as using a public computer in a library or Internet cafe. It’s also important to log off a Web site after completing an online transaction.
Day 10 — Use an online safety contract.
A safety contract helps start the dialogue between parents and kids about important topics to ensure a safe online experience. Examples of online safety contracts are available to download for free on the Web.
Day 11 — Take action immediately.
If you suspect identity theft, take action immediately to limit the damage. Contact your credit card company, your bank, all three credit reporting agencies and the police. Close any fraudulent accounts. Change passwords for all of your online accounts and be sure to keep records of all of the actions you have taken.
Day 12 — Above all, be skeptical.
The Internet not only presents enormous possibilities, but also serious risks. Make good decisions and use the same common sense in a real- world shopping experience when shopping online at home. If an online offer seems too good to be true, it could be a scam, which is why you should shop from online retailers you trust.
For additional online safety tips and resources, visit www.comcast.net/security.