Cyber security leaders prepare as criminals gear up for 'Cyber Monday'

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- The deals will be hot and consumers are looking to take advantage. But criminals are also hoping to cash in this Cyber Monday. The Department of Homeland Security is hoping to guide Americans to internet safety.

'Cyber Monday' takes place the Monday after Thanksgiving, as the online response to 'Black Friday.' (Source: Gray DC)

Keystrokes in place of shopping carts and long lines. No hand-to-hand combat with neighbors over the last tv in the store. But danger looms on the web...bad actors licking their chops ahead of Cyber Monday.

“Trying to find that person that (they) can trick into clicking on a link or downloading a malicious attachment,” said Jeanette Manfra, Assistant Director for Cybersecurity for the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

Manfra says with one wrong move, consumers’ information can be compromised, including credit card information, personal addresses, even social security numbers. And a day like Cyber Monday, the holy grail of online shopping holidays, she says is a breeding ground for criminals to prey on naive shoppers.

“Everybody wants a good discount on Cyber Monday so they’re going to exploit those kinds of thing,” said Manfra.

She says consumers can protect themselves in a number of ways by using strong passwords, updating the software on computers and mobile devices, using a credit card rather than debit card, and shopping on sites with good reputations.

The Cyber Readiness Institute wants shoppers to understand that just because a business is bigger in size does not mean its protections are superior to smaller businesses.

“A cyber resilient environment can be a business differentiator,” said Kiersten Todt, managing director of the Cyber Readiness Institute.

Todt says most companies invest in cyber security because their reputations are on the line. She still cautions shoppers to double check what their retailer of choice is doing to maintain safety.

“Take control of your privacy, protect yourself,” said Todt.

Shoppers can go to www.cisa.gov to learn more about preventing attacks online.

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