Following the theme of the popular song, I am posting my remix of the 12 Days of Christmas in terms of cybersecurity, the “12 tips of awareness” where I am sharing usable security and safety tips for the holidays.

  1. Update your anti-malware software to help protect your computer against possible infection.

  2. Use two-factor authentication. Two-factor authentication can be a pain, but it is a pain worth bearing. Two-factor authentication means you need to pass another layer of authentication, not just a username and password, to get into your accounts.

  3. Backup all your confirmations of purchase (or any important document) by saving them on a jump drive or in the Cloud. Should ransomware destroy your hard drive's files, you’ll have a backup copy and you will just need to clean your computer from the malware.

  4. Resist the urge to open, download or run any files or email attachments, even if they do promise 99% off your purchase! Malicious actors are very clever and can attach malware to these files that will infect your computer upon opening, possibly giving unauthorized access to your system, even with antivirus protection.

  5. Secure your Smart Home. With the increasing adoption of Google Home, Apple HomePod and Amazon Echo, controlling everything from your music, to your lighting and heating, security cameras and baby monitors, it is more important than ever to make sure these are secure. Check the manufacturers websites for updates and regularly refer back, updating according to their instructions as necessary. Ensure you change any factory set passwords on new smart devices.

  6. Do not click on suspicious links. Malicious links are sent by scammers who look more real than the original ones. As these links are specifically of well-known sites like eBay and Flipkart, many online users fall victim.

  7. Following the previous tip, prioritize shopping at trusted sites and do your research when purchasing from a less-familiar site. On the Internet, some websites are created by people just wanting to steal your information. To avoid this pitfall, shop at retailers you are familiar with and have used before.

  8. Always keep documentation of your online purchases, mostly an email is sent to the customer confirming the order. If you need any clarification or if you want to report possible fraud, keeping this is invaluable.

  9. Never, never, never reveal personal or financial information via email or respond to email solicitations for this type of information.

  10. Check your bank statements regularly. Most of the banks now allow for setting up email notifications of any credit card transaction. If you see any charges that are unusual, they have to get reported, and suitable actions should be taken that are needed to get a prompt refund.

  11. Always use strong passwords. Make sure to use a secure, unique password for each website. Don’t use the same password that you use for other websites; if someone gets a hold of that password by hacking one company’s servers, they’ll try to use it on other major merchants’ websites.

  12. Don’t shop/check banking on public Wi-Fi networks. It might save you time to do some shopping or check your bank transactions when you’re in an airport, a coffee shop, or some other location on a free, public Wi-Fi network. But this isn’t a good idea. Unless you use a reliable VPN (Virtual Private Network), which encrypts all data from your computer or mobile device, people can sniff the network, grabbing data to look for usernames, passwords, credit card numbers, and more.