The holiday season is in full swing, and a lot of you might have time off from work and school. So, you might be spending more time online than you usually do. Hopefully you’re having fun, perhaps finishing up some last-minute online shopping or catching up with Facebook friends. But more time online can also equal greater exposure to risk.

Remember, thieves are working even when you’re not! And con artists actually tend to ramp up their efforts at this time of year. So, remember to follow these rules to stay safe online – now and in the future.

Don’t click suspicious links. Whether it arrives via email, instant messenger, text or any other avenue, exercise the skeptical part of your brain. It is highly unlikely that you will “win” a contest that you don’t even remember entering, or be offered an amazing freebie. If it’s too good to be true, it’s probably not true!

Don’t give out personal information. You won some prize money, but they just need your bank account information to “make the deposit”? It’s more likely that they want to take a withdrawal! Safeguard your personal information such as bank account numbers, Social Security numbers, and so on. Legitimate businesses and government agencies will not ask for this information via email or instant messenger.

Beware of social engineering attacks. Any highly emotional message should be regarded with suspicion. Remember, con artists can create fake online profiles and pretend to be a relative who needs help, a charitable organization, or some other source that might use emotion to manipulate you.

Know the signs of a legitimate website. A phony website’s URL might be spelled closely to the real version, with only one letter off (that most people won’t notice). Also, look for a lock symbol and “https” at the beginning of the address; this is usually a sign that the website is secure.

Don’t download strange attachments. Unless you’re sure of the sender’s identity and the reason for sending you an attachment in an email, don’t download it. It might contain a virus or malware.

Remember to apply these rules to both home and office settings. For more help securing your work computers, give us a call at 888-RING-MY-TECH. We can offer more tips to keep your equipment safe, help you set up a firewall, and more.