It’s November. Like many of you, this means I’m looking forward to my annual Thanksgiving traditions – a morning Turkey Trot followed by feasting on my favorite beer-brined turkey and pecan pie. However, in recent years November has also come to mean great deals on holiday shopping. Black Friday and Cyber Monday follow Thanksgiving in quick succession, on November 23 and 26th respectively this year. Small and mid-sized businesses should be aware that Cyber Monday in particular can offer great deals on technology equipment.

If you’ve been thinking about acquiring new computers or laptops, consider timing your purchase to coincide with sale dates. While Dell and Microsoft have yet to share specifics, both their websites are already teasing offers. Over the last few years, Dell has jumped the gun with its ads (both consumer and small business), which typically leak right around the beginning of November. Last year some of their deals started almost immediately.

Unfortunately, online shopping can also be fraught with peril as criminals become more and more adept at tricking unsuspecting web users and stealing their information. I hate to admit this, but a few years ago I fell victim to an online scam, quickly typing in my credit card information on a sketchy website in a rush to stream a live sporting event. Luckily I soon realized something wasn’t right, but I spent the next hour of my New Year’s Eve frantically on the phone canceling my credit card before any damage could be done.

Since then, I’ve become much more security conscious, particularly as I’ve gone through security awareness training. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) recommends this type of training in their Small Firm Cybersecurity Checklist.

Invario offers an annual training program to our customers as part of our overall cybersecurity arsenal. Now is a great time to get on board, as kick off a new cycle of simulated phishing tests in November. Read on for some security awareness tips on how to keep your information safe during the holiday shopping season.

9 Steps to Take Now to Protect Your Finances Online

Seems like we’ve been inundated over the past few years with rampant cybertheft. Target, Nieman Marcus, Yahoo and even mysterious $9.84 credit-card charges. Unfortunately, in the world we live in, this is most likely the norm going forward and not just a blip on the radar. So, how can you stay protected online? While there is no way to absolutely, positively, 100% stay safe online, by taking these 9 steps, you will be as safe as possible.

1. Only Shop On Secure Websites. Before you type your credit card into a website, ensure it is secure. Look for “https://” in the address bar of your web browser when you are checking out.

2. Avoid Financial Transactions Over Public Wifi. You can’t guarantee that free or shared WiFi access is secure, so definitely avoid financial transactions on these connections.

3. Use A Secure Network For Financial Transactions. Protect your computer with a firewall, antivirus and anti-spyware software.

4. Setup Banking Alerts For Unusual Or Large Transactions. Ask your bank to notify you of any suspicious or large transactions.

5. Use Credit Cards Instead Of Debit Cards. Most credit cards offer better fraud protection, plus if money is stolen from a debit card, then it has already left your bank account.

6. Pick Long over Complex Passwords. Basically the longer the password the more difficult to crack via brute force methods. Never use a single word that can be found in the dictionary or reuse passwords at different sites. Instead use a random word generator and use more than one, or use a password manager to generate strong passwords.

7. Never Directly Answer Or Respond To An Email From Your Bank. Criminals have become very adept at appearing as if they are a financial institution when they are not. Never rely on links in emails to access your financial accounts.

8. Install Available Security Updates On Your Computer, SmartPhone and Tablets. Many cybercrimes target known security holes on your computing devices. Stay up to date to stay secure.

9. Check Your Bank Balances And Statements Regularly. Good ol’-fashioned visual checks on your balances and a scan of your transactions are the best practice to be sure that nothing has slipped through the cracks.

Let me know if you have questions on any of the tips above, or would like more information on security awareness training for your team.

Invario Referral$

If you know of a company that would be interested in the services of Invario, please e-mail me the name of the company and phone number and email for the person we should contact.

That is all you have to do! Upon completion of the onboarding of a new customer, Invario will pay the equivalent of one month of Invario service to that customer.

Recipients that cannot or do not wish to receive a referral payment may elect to have the referral fee donated to a charity of their choice or put into a company entertainment fund.


If there is an IT topic you would like to know more about please e-mail me your suggestions.

Dave Wilson

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