'Tis the season for comparing prices, sharing savings and downloading deals online. But whether you're on a desk top, a lop top or that computer in your palm, the holiday season increases your chance of clicking yourself into a cyber snare.
Cyber security expert Bob Bunge hopes to help head off the cyber attacks with a cyber reminder: Between fake websites, email scams, viruses, trojans and other malware your next click could unleash big trouble.
"It's still about about greed or fear," explained Bunge, "and typically it's greed in the holiday season. So the kind of bait on the hook tends to be the usual things- free gift cards, coupon deal, free screen saver, possibly a charitable donation."
A new consumer watchdog poll commissioned by Digital Citizens Alliance shows young cyber shopping adults are more likely to get burned this year, because they're more likely to click, share and download without confirming website security. The latest holiday cyber threats target hot social networks- with fake Pinterest offers, fake Instagram freebies, so-called "free" holiday e-greetings and ringtones loaded with viruses, and bogus instant social network messages that look like they're from friends.
Open the email or click on the link and the next thing you know, your identity or personal information has been stolen or your computer is infected with malware. Scammers also suck you in by touting the latest electronic products on the market. They're already out with fake offers for a free Xbox 1s or free PS4. Ditto for the new iPad Air. Offers for hot, trendy products grab attention quickly, but too many consumers respond without thinking. The same goes for trendy kids toys. Watch out for fake internet ads and social network offers promising to sell you that popular toy that's tough to find anywhere else.
The threat of increased cyber crime during the holiday season is prompting tips and warnings from the FBI, Homeland Security and numerous consumer and business organizations this year. The best way to avoid getting ripped off online is to only deal with known businesses you've dealt with before, check the url to make sure it's secure and legitimate, never shop online on a public wi-fi system, and make sure your anti-virus is update because viruses change daily. Security experts also warn that especially during the holidays- you should turn your computer off, when it's not in use.