During the summer months, Internet and mobile usage tends to increase as children have more free time and families plan summer getaways.

While businesses and consumers should always keep security at the top of their priority lists, now is the time to take stock of online habits and make sure all possible preventative measures are put in place to stay protected.

According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, a record-high number of data breaches were recorded in 2014, with more than 780 breaches — a 27.5 percent increase over the number of breaches reported in 2013.

Given the continued rise of data breaches and increased online and mobile transactions during the summer months, consumers must be aware of several risks and make efforts to stay protected. Here are several tips for consumers to stay safe online:

1. Use strong, unique passwords across websites

Consumers and businesspeople alike tend to use the same passwords across several websites, simply because they are easier to remember. These passwords also tend to be very weak and easy for cybercriminals to decipher, such as “123456.” To better protect against fraudsters, consumers should use unique passwords with a variety of characters, including capital letters, numbers and special characters.

2. Limit the amount of information you share or store online

A key reason many consumers create accounts on e-commerce sites and complete mobile transactions is because it’s easy to store personal information — such as names, email addresses and credit card numbers — to return and make a repeat purchase. However, if the website where this information is stored or a mobile device gets compromised, cybercriminals can steal this personal information to piece together your online identity, create fraudulent online accounts and make fraudulent purchases.

3. Avoid using public Wi-Fi

Today, consumers constantly have their mobile devices on hand and often do not hesitate to jump on a public Wi-Fi network at a coffee shop, airport or other location to save on their mobile data usage. However, consumers must limit the sensitive information they access on public Wi-Fi networks – such as banking and financial information, as these networks are often compromised by cybercriminals. Fraudsters can intercept an individual’s connection on public Wi-Fi to steal personal information or install malware.

4. Only download apps, open emails and click on links from trusted sources

With nearly every consumer-facing company having its own mobile app, cybercriminals can easily seize this opportunity to create fraudulent apps that look authentic to the typical consumer. The same goes for emails and links seemingly from trusted companies, such as airlines, hotels or online retailers. Threats associated with fraudulent apps, emails and links include malware and offer cybercriminals access to personal information stored on devices. To avoid these threats, consumers should only download official apps from the app store and click on links from official sources, not a third-party source.

While consumers can use summer as the time to take stock of their online activity in order to stay better protected against cybercriminals, businesses must also make an effort to protect consumers. One such way is for businesses to share threat information across a global network, to ensure that suspicious transactions and activities are blocked without adding friction for authentic and returning customers.


Source: www.bizjournals.com
Andreas Baumhof is Chief Technology Officer of ThreatMetrix and is an expert on cybersecurity with deep experience in the encryption, PKI, malware and phishing markets. Prior to ThreatMetrix, Baumhof was co-founder of TrustDefender, a provider of security and fraud detection technologies. Baumhof also was co-founder of Microdasys, a provider of deep-content security solutions. There, he developed the first SSL proxy with patents pending in Europe and the U.S.