It’s that time of year again. A chill is in the air, pumpkin-spice-everything is on the menu, and soon your online news feed will be peppered with Cyber Monday headlines.
Cyber Monday has become so embedded in our online shopping culture that many may not remember a time without it – yet it’s quite a contemporary holiday tradition.
As ubiquitous as its current presence, so too are its security warnings. For most of us, these warnings are mainstays of the modern online era. As a quick refresher:
- Use a unique password for each website, especially sensitive accounts.
- Enable two-step verification for sensitive websites and services.
- Check out as a guest whenever possible.
- Use a credit card instead of a debit card.
- Monitor your bank and credit card statements.
- Monitor your credit report – identities are more valuable than credit cards, and have no expiration date.
But this year, I want you to pay increased attention to security concerns that extend beyond the cyber shopping cart payment, and instead look at what’s actually in your cart.
Internet Of Things Devices Fill Shopping Carts
That FitBit, “smart” thermostat, and baby monitor you can access from your phone are all examples of devices that fall under the “Internet of Things,” or IoT. It’s a burgeoning and lucrative market: A July Business Insider Intelligence report forecasted 34 billion connected devices by 2020, more than tripling the 2015 count.
Wearables are particularly popular. Whether you’re shopping for health buffs or expectant parents, you can find wearable devices that track everything from stairs climbed to pregnancy contractions. And according to MarketResearch.com, these wearables and sensors will reach a market level of $117 billion in just three years.
Odds are good that this year’s cyber holiday purchases will help meet that estimate.
Hackers Also Benefit From Christmas
However, as connectivity grows, so do our risks. Last year’s CyberMonday brought us the VTech hack that accessed connected tablets that children used to communicate with their parents and download content. Hackers gained access to the customer database, which was rife with personal information such as addresses, birthdates and passwords that could allow access to other sites. Having such personal information can pose a physical threat, as well as facilitate identity theft (and with children, identity theft may not be discovered for years).