cyberHACC Newsletter

Use Technology Safely and Securely

cyberHACC is the Office of Information Services & Technology monthly information security newsletter. Each month our newsletter will feature a topic relevant to the security of your data, devices, as well as covering best practices related to the handling of information.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are behind us, and the Christmas holiday is fast approaching. More people are shopping online that ever before, but everyone needs to be extra cautious to protect themselves from cyber threats, scams, and identity theft.
Here are a few quick tips on how to shop online safely this holiday season:
  • Beware of Email Offers:
    This time of year there is a rise in phishing emails by scammers. Avoid clicking links for too-good-to-be-true offers arriving in email; many will lead you to a malicious website asking you for your credit card information and other personal data. Try to stick with companies you know, and avoid sites you don’t know or look suspicious. Don’t try and save time shopping by clicking on links in an email which appear to take you to your favorite online store. Instead make sure you type the store’s address straight into your browser.

  • Check the Web Address:
    Phony shopping sites can be hard to tell apart from the genuine ones, and even legitimate sites can be hijacked. These fake sites often rely on shoppers mistyping the genuine web addresses (or URL) of popular websites or clicking on messages from phony vendors who have a similar address. Slow down and check what you’ve clicked or typed. Otherwise you could end up viewing unsavory content or infecting your device with malware.

  • Protect Your Bank Details:
    When making a payment online, make sure that the web site is using encryption to protect your details. You’ll know it’s using encryption if the web address starts with HTTPS:// (instead of just HTTP://), and has a ‘padlock’ icon to the left of the address. Never let a website ‘remember’ your credit card details, always retype them if you want to shop there again.

  • Don’t Use Your Debit Card:
    It may be tempting to pay directly from your checking account, but checking accounts have less protection and it’s much harder to get your money back if you’re scammed by a phony website. If you pay by credit or charge card online, your transaction will be protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act. Use a separate credit card with a small credit limit for online purchases instead of using your debit card.

  • Verify Your Order:
    It’s not uncommon to select more than one item by mistake, or put the wrong house number, or choose the wrong shipping option. You should always double check the order before you make a payment. A few extra seconds won’t waste your day, and you don’t want to buy a Christmas gift a week before Christmas to later find out that it ships from China in 3 weeks’ time.
  • Avoid Package Delivery Scams:
    With online ordering comes the expectation of packages shipped to your home. Be wary of phony emails notifying you of “delivery failures” with your package. Scammers use logos and templates to trick you into thinking that email is from the U.S. Postal Service, FedEx, UPS, or other delivery service. Real emails won’t ask you for personal or financial information, or direct you to download an attachment. If you have questions about a package delivery, review your order details from the shopping site or contact the delivery service directly.
Remember the old adage If it’s too good to be true, it probably is – We all love a bargain and cybercriminals know this as well. Don’t fall for the cheap price tag – that free or discounted item could end up being really costly. So if you’ve found the latest hot designer shoes, but for a tenth of the price, regardless of how nice they may be, they’re probably not real. Cybercriminals are experts at creating websites and making them look identical to your favorite brand sites. Only shop at reputable online sites and avoid getting your credit card scammed.
Additional Resources:

For more good information on staying safe online, take a look at the Federal Trade Commission’s tips and video for safe, hassle-free online shopping: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0020-shopping-online


Watch for our email asking you to participate in cybersecurity training on the topic of phishing attacks. Thanks to AIG (HACC's cybersecurity insurance provider) and their partnership with TechGuard Security®, we can offer this short training module on to increase everyone’s cybersecurity awareness.

The email will come from cybersecurity=hacc.edu@inspiredlms.com and will contain instructions on how to access the training.
Watch for more tips each month to raise your
Cybersecurity I.Q. and help keep HACC’s data safe!
HACC, Central Pennsylvania's Community College
Office of Information Services & Technology
One HACC Drive, Harrisburg, PA 17110

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