Experts: Don’t make cybersecurity an afterthought this holiday season

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Experts with the Better Business Bureau of North Alabama urge you to be cautious online this holiday season.

Elizabeth Garcia, President and CEO, tells us it's not uncommon for them to receive an onslaught of concerns and complaints after the new year. Some may fall victim to identity thieves, or scammers, out to make a quick buck on your hard-earned cash.

"Who doesn't want a deal for the holiday season to really make the most of your holiday dollars?" said Garcia of all the online deals you can find starting this time of year. But she asserts, it's all about shopping smart.

She recommends that you pay close attention to the websites you visit. Are they secure? Do you see an "https://" at the start of the link?

Garcia says it's also important to stay with the online marketplace where you start shopping.

"Don't let a marketplace or seller lure you offline to complete the transaction," she warns. Garcia adds that it's best not to click unsolicited links or pop-ups that you may find while surfing online, no matter how good the deals they advertise may sound.

There's also a message about passwords. Garcia says it's a good idea to check the strength of the ones you use on retail sites, especially in the wake of hacks we've seen through the past few years. Are your passwords strong enough? Do you do two-step verification for sites or devices you own?

If you're traveling this season, she suggests one more tip about the public WiFi you'll find in airports, restaurants, or public places: don't enter personal information while using them.

"Public WiFi hotspots are a prime target for hackers to sit within a certain radius of those locations, and they can pull data," she explained.

Avoiding scammers and other threats can help get your packages safely to your doorstep, with your identity more secure, this holiday season.