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Cyber Reflections

Cyber Reflections: Attention Online Shoppers

By Maj. Gen. Paul Capasso USAF (Ret.) •  November 19, 2018

“An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.”     Benjamin Franklin


If you are an online shopper who prides yourself on finding a bargain, Black Friday and Cyber Monday kick off your month-long Super Bowl.  They represent deals, deals, and more deals as the holiday shopping spree officially begins. The three “Cs” of cost, choice, and convenience drive shoppers to the online market. Add the ability to compare, contrast and have celerity in delivery of your goods and you have a match made in heaven.  However, if you are a cyber criminal, you too are full of smiles, laughing all the way to the bank as the season of easy money is upon you.

Adobe Analytics reported that in 2017, American consumers spent $19.62 billion online between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday – a $2.6 billion and 15 percent increase from the previous year.  According to a joint survey performed by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights and Analytics, “approximately 58 million people chose to do their shopping online only.”

Cyber criminals have a wide range of tools to work with.  According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation 2017 Internet Crime Report, “the most prevalent crime types reported by victims were Non-Payment/Non-Delivery, Personal Data Breach, and Phishing.” Malicious actors use many forms of spoofing such as  phony emails, fake applications, malicious pop-up coupons and advertisements, bogus QR codes and fraudulent web addresses.

Armed with the knowledge that you are living in a target-rich cybercrime environment, what can you do to ensure you are not the next victim of online financial fraud?  One way to stay one step ahead of the cybercriminal is through the use of mnemonics.  Mnemonics is the use of a word, formula or rhyme to aid one in remembering important things.  In the case of this article, use the word “IMPACT” to help you remember key considerations to keep in mind before you begin the online shopping blitz:

  • Install. Ensure your operating system is current and you are using updated anti-virus software.
  • Multifactor Authentication. Use two or more ways to authenticate your identity when logging into your account.
  • Passwords. Use strong passwords and change them frequently.  Do not use the same passwords on all of your shopping sites. (Consider using a password manager.)
  • Awareness. Know that no one is safe and you can be a target.
  • Continuously Monitor. Frequently monitor your bank and credit card expenditures for fraudulent activity.
  • Trust. Shop only on trusted internet sites. Think before you click.

By following a few simple guidelines this holiday season you can have a positive “IMPACT” on your pocketbook and stay one step ahead of potential fraudulent cyber activities.  Happy Shopping!


Maj. Gen. Paul Capasso USAF (Ret.)

Maj. Gen. Paul Capasso USAF (Ret.)

Maj. Gen. Paul Capasso (Ret.) is the vice president of strategic programs at Telos Corporation. See full bio...

The Empower and Protect Blog brings you cybersecurity and information technology insights from top industry experts at Telos.

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