Online Holiday Shopping Tips from UIT

cyber security

The significant online shopping over the holiday season provides the optimal environment for cybercriminals to exploit unsuspecting online shoppers. Fortunately, many cyber threats are avoidable when you develop habits to protect your personal information and keep your devices safe and secure when shopping online. 

  • Shop reliable websites.
    If an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is! Don't be fooled by great discounts on less-than-reputable websites or fake companies. Use the sites of retailers you know and trust and get to their sites by directly typing a known, trusted URL into the address bar instead of clicking on a link.
  • Beware of seasonal scams.
    Fake package tracking emails, fake e-cards, fake charity donation scams, and emails requesting that you confirm purchase information are particularly common this time of year.
  • Conduct research.
    When considering a new website or online company for a holiday purchase, read reviews and see if other customers have had positive or negative experiences with them. Also, verify that the website has a legitimate mailing address and a phone number for sales or support-related questions. If the site looks suspicious, call and speak to a human.
  • Protect your passwords.
    Make them long and strong, and never reveal them to anyone. Do not reuse your university password on other accounts (Facebook, Instagram, banking). Every account should have a unique password. Change your password immediately if you suspect your account is compromised.
  • Use multi-factor authentication wherever possible. 
    If you get an authentication request that you did not request, DENY the request and report it to UHS Information Security.
  • Pay with a credit card, not a debit card. 
    Debit cards may not have the same level of protection.
  • Check your credit card and bank statements regularly. 
    These are often the first indicators that your account information or identity has been stolen. If there is a discrepancy, report it immediately. Enable alerts on your financial accounts to help monitor activity.
  • Keep devices secure. 
    Regularly update computer/mobile devices with current OS versions and third-party application software updates. This also includes devices you may use at home, such as wireless routers, webcams, etc. Ensure anti-virus/anti-spyware software is installed, running, and receiving automatic updates.
  • Only use secure wi-fi. 
    Protect your data by using strong encryption on your home wireless network. Avoid connecting to public Wi-Fi. 

UHS Information Security is working for you. We are available 24/7 to monitor and respond to time-sensitive issues. All members of the UHS community can reach the UHS Information Security Team at or via phone at 832-842-4695.