Blake Dowling: Don’t get buried in the holiday ‘wave’
Mysterious male santa hacker holding laptop computer, anonymous man on black background, ransomware cyber attack and internet security on Christmas holiday concepts crime

mysterious male santa hacker holding laptop computer
‘Tis the season, friends; we all must be careful; if it looks too good to be true, it is.

Every few years, in the world of elections, we are on the lookout for some kind of wave.

A blue wave when President Joe Biden took office, or a red one — as we saw in Florida recently — when Gov. Ron DeSantis defeated his challenger.

Regardless of election “waves” there’s only one wave I have my eye on every year.

It’s not a Point Break Part Three intro to the 50-year storm in Bells Beach, Australia.

No sir, the wave I am referring to is the next big wave of cyber incidents like the one we saw in 2016.

That was a big one with the Russian Internet Research Agency meddling in our elections, along with other shenanigans. Thankfully, all we saw was a ripple, not a wave, with a few elections websites being down in Mississippi and a couple of other small items.

As far as we know, there was not a major issue that was reported, thwarted or seen in the 2022 Elections. Next, we have the holidays; surfs up, and time to get back in wave-readiness mode as the hackers are already in gear and ready to try and relieve you of the burden of your personal info and currency.

I was talking to ABC 7 in Sarasota on Sunday and one of the first things I warned Cyber Monday shoppers about — and this applies to all holiday shopping — is to beware of following the link trail. Have you ever seen an ad pop up on a social platform and it takes you to another site, and then another and another and finally they ask for credit card info?

I call this the “link trail” — and do not follow it.

If you see an ad for something you must have, stop, go to Google, find that company’s website directly, and go there.

It’s even better to turn on your ad blockers in your search engines, usually found under settings, security and privacy.

Doing these two things might just help you have a “Merry Holiday Prep” experience.

Some other items to look out for are “missed delivery” texts and emails. Hackers assume you are ordering packages from Amazon, so please beware of fake notifications appearing to be from them. If you need to track packages, go to the websites directly and use the tracking numbers you received upon payment or shipment notification.

Also be wary of fly-by-night GoFundMe pages. Hackers use that platform — and so do some people running for office. But that’s for another day.

If giving to different charities is your thing for holiday generosity, try a charity verification site like Charity Navigator before entering your credit card information.

As a test, I searched for a charity near and dear to me, Tree House Kids home in Tallahassee, and it came up 100% verified.

Hackers also post fraudulent seasonal jobs to try and get your personal info and/or ask you to pay for your uniform and supplies before getting started, If you do that, you’ve just been conned.

Again, call and verify before giving anyone your credit card number, and not the number the hackers provide. Do your own independent search.

I had a client call the other day after receiving a suspicious email; he said that he called the number in the signature and the person said it was real. I replied that was … because you were talking to the hacker.

Silence followed.

‘Tis the season, friends, we all must be careful. If it looks too good to be true, it is. Beware romance schemes, too.

If you hear a single relative discussing meeting a nice man or woman in Peru who just needs money for a plane ticket, bus ticket, operation, tuition, etc., please do them a favor and stop them from giving away their money.

Hackers are after us all and, sadly, they will get some of us so make sure you are not a victim.

If you see something say something. Merry Christmas, happy holidays, surfs up — click here to claim your free gift card … LOL.

___

Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and his book Professionally Distanced is on sale for the holidays.

Blake Dowling

Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies. His technology columns are published by several organizations. Contact him at [email protected] or at www.aegisbiztech.com



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