How to talk cyber security over the holidays
December 9, 2019
The holidays can be a time of, shall we say, awkward conversations. Colleagues who have imbibed too much at the holiday office party, relatives who are REALLY keen to tell you about their taxidermized animal collection, and retail store associates intent on oversharing their holiday plans – all are the proverbial burnt-out-holiday-lightbulb-on-the-string-of-lights you need to avoid.
Thankfully, there is a solution that can help ease the tension and get you through ANY holiday-related conversation unscathed.
And it comes from a, well, unexpected source: cyber security.
By steering the conversation towards personal cyber security tips you can successfully navigate all the potentially awkward and conflict-heavy chats you might encounter this holiday season.
At the office holiday party
Holiday office parties are a funny thing. You work with these people all year without issue. But then add some alcohol and a mix of personal conversations and things can get a little more interesting.
This year, when things start to get a little awkward, all you need to do is steer the conversation towards something we’ve all dealt with: phishing and smishing!
Phishing and smishing are attempts by cyber criminals to separate you from your personal information so they can steal your identify and (potentially) your money.
So the next time someone says something really crazy to you at your holiday office party, you’ll have a response ready.
“That’s crazy! Almost as crazy as this phishing email I received the other day. Can you believe a cyber criminal emailed me trying to make me think they were my bank? Thankfully, because I’ve read Get Cyber Safe’s guide on email safety, I knew just to ignore it.”
At family gatherings
Family gatherings are a highlights of the holiday season. They give everyone a chance to come together and spend time with their siblings, parents and extended family.
Inevitably, though, there will always be lulls in the conversation as everyone gets caught up.
This creates a great opportunity to help educate your loved ones on the importance of cyber security.
When you arrive for a family gathering, ask if you can have the password for the Wi-Fi. If they don’t have it password protected, you can tell them about the importance of a password-protected Wi-Fi network.
If they have a password but haven’t changed it from the default setting, you can point them to the Get Cyber Safe website where they can learn more about setting up strong passwords.
This will help steer the conversation away from any potentially dangerous topics towards something everyone can enjoy.
While holiday shopping
Ever been to a mall during the holiday season? Yeesh – talk about a busy time!
Parking is nonexistent, store lines are long and competition for last-minute gifts is fierce.
See someone waiting in line in front of you at a store accessing their phone without a password? Let them know about the importance of password-protecting your phone!
A lost or stolen mobile phone no longer means just the loss of information or an increased phone bill from a thief's calls on your phone. These days it can result in total identity theft, financial disaster or infecting the devices of everyone in your contact list.
Help pass the time while waiting in line – let your fellow shoppers know about mobile phone safety.
While travelling for the holidays
For many Canadians, the holidays are defined by travel – time spent in airports, cars and train stations to visit friends and family.
This can also mean a lot of waiting. A real lot of waiting.
Thankfully, you can pass the time by discussing cyber security If you see a fellow traveler working away on a laptop, for example, you can strike up a conversation about the importance of having a strong password.
Your password is all that separates cyber criminals from your personal information, money and identity.
Help your fellow travelers to adopt a strong password by letting them know about best practices for password safety:
- Make sure it's a minimum length of eight characters.
- Use a combination of upper and lower case letters and at least one number.
- Include at least one character that isn't a letter or number.
- Be creative. Use the first letter of each word of a memorable sentence or phrase, then make it even tougher by changing some of the letters to numbers (e.g. use a "3" to replace an "e").
- Try a mix of your pet's name, your favourite numbers, the street you grew up on or other combinations.
The holidays don’t have to be a challenge, as long as you know how to navigate them properly.
Let cyber security be your friend! The next time a conversation is heading in the wrong direction, steer it towards password security, securing your Wi-Fi network or protecting your devices.
Happy cyber safe holidays to all!
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