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Sunday, November 27, 2011

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Prepare for a Safe Cyber Monday

By Agent Patrick B.

A recent survey shows 46.7% of shoppers will purchase holiday items online this year.  Unfortunately, there are people out there looking to “scrooge” your holiday shopping experience.  Regardless of how you shop online, keeping your online identity safe is crucial.

 

In part of our mission to police technology and protect the world, Geek Squad Agents have prepared tips to keep you safe while shopping online.   Here are a few ways to ensure your identity remains safe while grabbing those hot deals on Cyber Monday.

 

Our mobile devices are replacing computers for more of our common tasks each year, and this year’s online shopping season is no different.  There are a few special security concerns that come with using a mobile device to shop online.  While shopping on the go this year, be sure to follow these security precautions to keep you and your digital wallet safe.

  •  Verify the website – When shopping from a mobile device, double check the web address prior to sending any information to ensure you are on the site you want to be.
  • Check your network connection – Many mobile devices will default to an available unsecure wireless network.  While this can be great to keep your data usage low, it can pose a security risk.  Make sure you are not connected to an unsecure network and use your cellular connection or an encrypted network instead.

  • Lock your devices – Keeping your personal device protected with a password is vital.  While ‘gesture’ passwords are quick to access and easy to setup, the frequent use of the gesture on your screen can create smudges left by your fingerprint.  This makes it easy to guess your gesture and get into your phone.  In the event your device is misplaced, a traditional password will be more effective in preventing access to your personal information.  As always, keep your password or PIN hard to guess.  Don’t use birthdays or addresses, or other easy-to-guess combinations.

 

While shopping online from your computer, some of the same tips to keep your identity and your PC safe apply.  This holiday season be sure to follow these basic rules to stay safe:
  • Keep your PC healthy – The first and most important step is to ensure you keep your PC is clean and free of spyware and virus infections.  Geek Squad offers a free Do-It-Yourself spyware and virus scan on GeekSquad.com, as well as free consultations from our Virtual Agents at support.geeksquad.com.  You will also want to ensure your PC is completely up-to-date with all the latest security patches from Windows.  Our Virtual Agents can remotely give your PC a quick tune-up to verify you have all the latest patches, and help improve basic performance with our PC Optimization service.  If needed, they can also remotely perform a Virus and Spyware Removal service to repair any infections that may be present on your PC.  Chat with an Agent at support.geeksquad.com for details.
  • Identify and avoid spam and phishing attempts – During the holiday season, spammers frequently kick into overdrive.  They’ll use the latest tactics to attempt to capture your identity with fake offers, attractive deals, and false websites.  Check out our tips and tricks for avoiding these phishing attempts at our blog, available here.
  • Ensure your wireless network is secure - It is always a good idea to ensure your wireless network is encrypted and secure.  In normal circumstances this prevents people from accessing your network devices, or using your internet without your permission.  It is vital, to protect yourself when shopping online, that you only use an encrypted network.  When data is sent over an unsecure network hackers can potentially see what is being transmitted, and obtain your credit card information.  Always use secure networks when making any purchases or doing your banking online.  Geek Squad can assist in setting up your home wireless network and ensuring it is encrypted with the latest networking standards.
  • Keep your credit cards where they belong; in your wallet – Geek Squad never recommends storing your credit card information in your web browser.  While it may make it more convenient to shop online, it also makes it easy for anyone who may have access to your computer to steal the information.  In just a few seconds, someone can sit down at your computer and write down any details stored in your web browser.

 

Remember, when shopping online this holiday season keeping your identity safe is only half the battle.  Monday is a work day, after all!  Geek Squad has a few tips to minimize your time spent shopping online to help you remain on your boss’s good side!
  • Plan Ahead – Scoping out sites ahead of time to identify the best deal is a great plan to remain efficient.  This will help minimize the time spent online, allowing you to condense your online shopping to your lunch break.  Check out sites such as Cybermonday.net and CyberMonday.com for the latest scoop on who is offering what deals on Monday.
  • Get the App! – There is a mobile app for just about everything now, and Cyber Monday is no exception!  Apps like the CyberMonday Deals 2011 app allows you to browse over a thousand items that are popular on this year’s holiday gift lists.
  • Keep busy – Not quite finished with your shopping and your lunch break is over? No worry, Geek Squad has a great tip to quickly switch between websites and open documents.  Hear your boss coming down the hall?  Hold down the ALT key and press TAB, quick!  Each time you press the TAB key while holding ALT it will cycle through the next open window or program on your computer.  Once that PowerPoint presentation you’re working on, or the open Excel document with the end of the year budget is front and center on the screen, release the ALT key.  Your boss will see you as the dedicated worker, opposed to someone still trying to finish up the weekend’s shopping!  (Not that we have any experience with that.)

 

For more tips on how to stay safe this holiday season, and ensure your computer is ready to go at all times, talk to an Agent.  You can visit Http://www.geeksquad.com to chat with an Agent, call 1-800-GeekSquad to set up an in-home appointment, or visit one of our over 1000 Geek Squad Precincts found at your local Best Buy to speak with an Agent directly.

Remember, Geek Squad Agents are there for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.  Our primary mission is keeping your techno-stress at bay, whether that is providing you with some preventative tips, or saving the day when everything seems to be going wrong; we’re here when you need us.

 

-Agent Patrick B.

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