Prevent Ransomware Threats: Simple Online Shopping Safety Tips for New Year’s Deals


My guess is that if you are reading my blog, you are doing some of your new year shopping online.  What I am concerned about is what the shopping season means to cybercriminals and how you can protect your network.  This season, give yourself the gift of the Human Firewall and learn how to protect yourself.

Here are my key concerns:

  • Credentials stolen through credit card theft
  • Ransomware activated by clicking on a fake email link or a suspect website

Keeping yourself safe from these attacks is a matter of building your virtual street smarts.  I know many are looking for the best deal, but be wary of where you go to do your shopping.  I can envision sites popping up that advertise that they have, IN STOCK, that hard to find, specific item you want.  You go to that site, click on a link and, WHAM! You get a virus, or worse: ransomware.

Maybe you are lucky and avoid that site, but your credit card information is stolen from a legitimate site with a compromised shopping cart, or from an email scam.  How do you protect yourself? Be sure to read the tips in the ransomware blog by Bill Conner, President and CEO of SonicWall.

  1. Make sure your anti-virus software is up to date.
  2. Do NOT click on attachments or links from emails where you do not know the sender.
  3. Consider incognito browsing, which allows you to browse without storing local data and passwords that could be retrieved at a later date. This is especially important if anyone else uses your device.  (Incognito browsing also helps if you do not want anyone to know what cool gifts you purchased.)

If you are a business looking for insights, don’t be lulled by the feeling that you do not have anything of value to steal.  Every business has something a cybercriminal wants: your employee information, partner information, intellectual property or just the access to your bank account.  You can add to your business’ level of protection by taking a few simple actions:

  1. Do not give broad access to temporary employees. If they need to access the POS system, give them rights to only that area, rather than carte blanche access to your whole network.
  2. Make sure all the protection features of your next-generation firewall are turned on. If this slows your network down, consider a post-holiday upgrade to something better.
  3. When in doubt, ask for help. If you do not know how to implement any of these strategies, find someone who does. If you have not done this yet, take a look at the PCI security guidelines.  They provide a great starting point for protection.

There are many things that you can do to protect yourself and your business during the action-packed season.  I wanted to cover a few that you may have missed in the face of shopping New Year’s deals.  Celebrate the season and the best to you all in the New Year.

Download our eBook: “8 Ways to Protect Your Network Against Ransomware

SonicWall Staff