Merry Surfing

Holiday-themed messages accounted for two percent of spam by the end of October, according to data from Symantec’s MessageLabs Intelligence. And Symantec predicts more than two billion Thanksgiving or Christmas-related spam e-mails to circulate globally this year.

In an article on the Chicago Tribune website, Wailin Wong says that rather than feel helpless, consumers can protect themselves during this “seasonal uptick in spam activity.” The article lists several ways online shoppers can avoid personal security breaches.

For starters, don’t always use the same password. Michael Barrett, chief information security officer at PayPal, recommended using one password for online banking, another for e-commerce sites such as eBay or Amazon, a “throwaway” password for sites visitors are unlikely to visit again, and one unique password just for e-mail.

Researchers at McAfee Labs caution online shoppers to vet unfamiliar sites. Some claim to sell discounted luxury goods from familiar brands, such as Cartier or Gucci, but are “loaded with malicious software,” Wong writes.

For more on these and other holiday cybersecurity tips from The Chicago Tribune, please click here:,0,7963588.story