With the holiday season upon us, it’s more important than ever to tune-up your cybersecurity safeguards. As we look forward to celebrations with family and friends, fraudsters and cybercriminals are poised to increase their activities, knowing well that we may be preoccupied and thus, more susceptible to scams. But, in taking a few steps now to help protect yourself and your family, you can better ensure your safety during this busy and festive time.
At J.P. Morgan, cybersecurity remains an absolute priority. The firm spends over half a billion dollars annually on cybersecurity and has over 1,000 professionals dedicated to it. Our cybersecurity strategy is focused on securely enabling new business and technology initiatives while maintaining a relentless focus on protecting the firm and our clients. In an ever-evolving cyber threat landscape, we don’t just focus on one specific kind of malware, but ensure we are prepared to address any type of cybersecurity threat.
1. Monitor online accounts for suspicious activity:
Be vigilant about monitoring your existing financial and shopping accounts for suspicious activity, particularly during the holiday season. Enable your online banking accounts to notify you of account changes and transactions. If you’re based in the United States, strongly consider freezing your credit to prevent cybercriminals from opening new accounts in your name. Additionally, the start of the new year is a good time to review your credit reports from all agencies. If your report shows any accounts or activity that you do not recognize, it could be indicative of identity theft.
2. Prevent fraud stemming from email account takeovers:
Limit your holiday shopping to sites with web addresses beginning with https:// and displaying a padlock symbol. Do not open emails, click links or download files sent by strangers, and avoid public computers and wireless networks, which can allow others to access your data. Always refrain from including financial or account information in the body of an email or as an attachment, use online banking options whenever possible, or encrypt any message that may contain sensitive data before hitting send.
3. Enable multi-factor authentication (MFA):
It is harder to break into your accounts when multiple methods of authentication are required (e.g., your user ID/password as well as a security code that is texted to you or a scan of your fingerprint), making MFA one of the strongest cybersecurity measures around. You should enable MFA, also called two-factor authentication/ verification, wherever possible—especially on financial, email, social media and well-known shopping sites, to make it more difficult for hackers to compromise your account.
4. Secure your smart devices—whether old or new:
This is the time of year when many people purchase or are gifted new electronic devices, or gift older devices to others. But, as eager as you may be to use your new device or pass on an old one, it’s important to protect your information first. Ensure your device is manufactured by a reputable company that provides support, strong security features and updates. Understand what data the device is collecting and how the data is used and shared with other parties. Put smart devices—including security systems, appliances and toys—on a wireless guest network separate from your primary network, which may be used to access your confidential information, and ensure that all devices and networks use strong and unique passwords. Also, if you’re gifting an old device, be sure to first wipe it clean of your data before passing it on. Click here for more tips, and learn more about how to protect your mobile devices here.
5. Avoid charity scams:
Always validate any change in payment instructions by calling the recipient on a known number, especially if the change is made at the last minute. Charity Navigator, America's largest independent charity evaluator, provides guidelines to help protect you from online scams and ensure your donations are reaching the causes you wish to support.
6. Keep security in mind while traveling:
As excited as we are about telling friends about our holiday plans, avoid posting travel itineraries and location updates on social media. Additionally, avoid using Wi-Fi provided in hotels, airport lounges and cafes, public Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or charging stations. Hackers lurk everywhere.