FBI: Uptick in cyber security threats. How to keep your private information safe…

Local News

State College, Pa- While many have finished their cyber Monday shopping for the day. There are many still hunting a good deal.

But be aware that there’s something else you should be on the lookout for: hackers…. trying to steal information like your credit card number.

WTAJ investigated to see how you can keep your private information safe when shopping online.

Many research centers expect a record turnout of cyber Monday shoppers by the end of the day Monday.

But that could also mean a record number of hackers, and thieves who use every method imaginable to steal your private information and ordered items.

An expert in cyber security told WTAJ the best ways to protect yourself from scams this holiday season.

“First of all make sure that you’re shopping at a secure site, if you’re getting an email from a site you’ve never heard of before, you’ve got to be very leery of that, don’t ever click on the link of an email, type that site in yourself,” said David Hozza, Coordinator of Penn State’s Cyber Security Program.

To show how easy it is to be tricked into a scam, Professor Hozza created a fake email account that a hacker would send out to people on cyber Monday…. telling them there was a “problem with their order.”

“This should be your first tip this isn’t legitimate because it’s coming from gmail, it’s not coming from amazon,” Hozza siad.

But in the email there was a link that said “Amazon.com”

“This looks like a legitimate link right?…. So if i click on this link, it takes me to what i think is amazon right,?” Hozza said.

Everything on the linked page was identical to Amazon.com, except the web address in the upper left hand corner… which indicated the site was not secure.

“You don’t want to put any information in here,” Hozza said.

When you type in the official website yourself, the connection becomes secure.

And it’s not just a secure site you have to watch out  for…, but the WiFi network you’re on as well.

“Do not do any online shopping on public WiFi… like Starbucks, McDonald’s, or places like that,” Hozza said.

Why? It provides fewer hoops for hackers to jump through.

“They can capture your password…. they can actually buy a device called a pineapple, which will actually mimic a WiFi network and trick you into connecting to that, and while you’re connected to that they’re capturing all your information,” Hozza said.

And when you do go to enter your credit card information on a private secure network, Hozza says keep all purchases on one card.

“You kinda isolate that card…. and find out if you can put a lower limit on that card so that if it does get compromised, they can only do a certain amount of damage,” he said.

What else can you do?

Be sure to change that password…. and make sure it’s not something a first grader could solve

“abc123 can be cracked pretty easily…. use more than 8 characters in your password….symbols, uppercase, lowercase… so on and so forth…. if your password is harder to guess, they’re gonna move onto the next person,” Hozza said.

Professor Hozza also advises that you monitor your bank accounts closely, and set up alerts on your accounts so you can see when money is being moved.

He also advises that you not post items you just ordered on social media platforms…. as porch pirates can time out when it’s coming to your house and steal it once it arrives.

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