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Posted by US News on September 16, 2014 by Kimberly Palmer

Fall is prime time for hackers; here’s how to avoid becoming a victim.

The recent hacking of celebrity nude photos demonstrated that we are often more vulnerable to privacy breaches than we think. And as we move into the most frenzied shopping season of the year, scam artists will be on the prowl for vulnerable shoppers. To avoid becoming a victim, consider taking steps now to keep your financial accounts and personal information safe.

The cyber security company LogRhythm points out that because so many people now shop from mobile devices, which are often less protected than computers, and the volume of purchases goes up at the holidays, cyber crime levels can also rise.

One of the most common methods is for a hacker to send an email to a victim claiming to be from a bank, retailer or other company. The email then directs the victim to another site, which captures his or her personal information. (That’s one reason to avoid clicking on hyperlinks from inside emails, even if they appear to be from a recognizable company.) At least some of the celebrity nude photos hack reportedly stemmed from this method.

To avoid that kind of scam and others, here are the latest tips on how to stay safe while shopping online:

1. Skip attachments and hyperlinks. LogRhythm warns that even attachments from people you know can be nefarious, since those acquaintances could be infected with a computer virus. If the email contains unusual or scant wording, don’t open the attachment. The same logic applies to hyperlinks in emails (or requests for information received over text message); LogRhythm recommends first hovering over the link to make sure it’s going to direct you to a valid address.

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