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Growth & Jobs | Be cybersecurity aware this Christmas

Published:Tuesday | December 7, 2021 | 12:05 AM
Henry Osborne, technical product manager at The Jamaica National Group.
Henry Osborne, technical product manager at The Jamaica National Group.
Dwayne Brown, executive in charge of cybersecurity at The Jamaica National Group.
Dwayne Brown, executive in charge of cybersecurity at The Jamaica National Group.

WITH JUST weeks away from Christmas, consumers are bustling to do their Christmas shopping. But information technology experts are warning consumers to be careful, as the cybercriminals are also looking for opportunities to close in and deceive holiday shoppers.

According to Dwayne Brown, executive in charge of cybersecurity at The Jamaica National Group, cyberattackers are using more sophisticated measures to adapt to consumers’ evolving digital lifestyles. He said the most common tricks are email and text phishing.

“What they do is target persons who shop online and send unsuspecting users email messages through an attack method, termed ‘spear phishing’, which is a targeted attempt to steal sensitive information, such as account credentials or financial information from a specific victim, often for malicious reasons,” he explained.

Brown said the attackers disguise themselves as a trustworthy friend or entity to acquire sensitive information, typically through email or other online messaging. This is the most successful form of acquiring confidential information on the Internet.

He further noted that cybercriminals will also leverage data collected from previous security breaches to assess which users they could target, as well as the most effective way to target victims or launch an attack, for example, using social engineering or artificial intelligence.

The cybersecurity executive said that attacks can also be launched against IP cameras and other Internet-connected devices, such as thermostats or sensors and appliances, which are collectively called Internet of Things devices.

“Many of these devices enter the home and enterprise with very lax or default security controls built in, which makes them an attractive target for cybercriminals,” he pointed out.

Brown advises shoppers to use a comprehensive antivirus security solution, which, he said, can help to improve safety during shopping online, as it provides a safer web- browsing experience, virus protection, and more.

Henry Osborne, technical product manager at The Jamaica National Group and a technology expert, is warning consumers to be wary of things that are too good to be true, as the best scams do not look like scams.

“Do not make payment over public or open Wi-Fi. Review your online account settings and keep your payment information personal,” he said. “Develop good password habits; change them often, and use unique ones that are hard to guess.”

Other precautions to be taken, he said, include to be wary of fake online stores.

When possible, purchase from the online stores you already know, trust, and have done business with previously. Bookmark online stores you have visited before and trust.

•Look out for prices that are significantly better than those you see at the established online stores. If the deal sounds too good to be true, it may be fake.

•Be suspicious if the website resembles the one you’ve used in the past, but the website domain name or the name of the store is slightly different.”

“For example, you may be used to shopping at Amazon, whose website address is www.amazon.com, but end up shopping at a fake website that has a similar website address, where the letter ‘o’ is replaced with the digit ‘0’,” he said.

Turning to online payment, Osborne said consumers should regularly review their credit card statements to identify suspicious charges. And, if possible, enable the option to notify you by email, text or app every time a charge is made to your credit card.

“If you find any suspicious activity, call your credit card company right away and report it. Avoid using debit cards whenever possible. Debit cards take money directly from your bank account; if fraud has been committed, you’ll have a much harder time getting your money back,” said Osborne.