PROTECTING YOUR SECURITY & PRIVACY: Christmas Security

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With the Christmas season approaching, let’s talk about some smart privacy and security tips to employ.

HOLIDAY OFFICE PARTIES: While the holidays are a festive time, when you are attending an office party, you are still on the clock. Think of the office party as a business event rather than as a happy hour. That means:

(1) Don’t drink too much. If you’re rip-roaring drunk, you will regret what you said or did when you find out the next day. And, by all means, if you’ve had too much to drink, don’t drive and drive.

(2) Don’t gossip. While office parties appear casual, they are not, and the old adage that “loose lips sink ships” is very true.

(3) Dress appropriately. Don’t wear anything too ostentatious, tight, or flesh-revealing. For years, I used to wear flashy outfits, such as hot pink or green chartreuse suits. Unfortunately, my sense of style led to all sorts of trash talk about my seriousness and even my sexual orientation.

(4) Don’t tell off-color jokes. There’s a time and a place for those. A bar or a strip club, sure – but not at an officially sanctioned office party – regardless of the location.

(5) Don’t hit on a colleague. I once worked in a family business, and I was told, “Don’t dip your pen in company ink.” That is crude, yet sage, advice.

And finally: (6) Don’t be the last one to leave.

VACATIONS: If you’re planning a holiday vacation, don’t announce it on Facebook or Twitter until after you return. Wait to post pictures and stories once you’re home. Criminals do surf on social media, and then they rob you blind. Instead of the old-fashioned way of “casing” a neighborhood for an unattended home, they now browse the internet. While increasing the security settings of your social media will help to keep snoopers out, it won’t prevent sophisticated hackers – especially those that hack into one of your friend’s accounts.

So be wise, and be careful what and when you post.

SHOPPING: You obviously want to employ the same safeguards you do all year long – such as being safe online and knowing the vendor you’re dealing with. During the holidays, though, there are some additional precautions you should take.

(1) If you’re shopping in a brick-and-mortar environment, pay attention to your physical security. This is the time of year when pickpockets and thieves have a field day. Specifically, keep an eye on your wallet, smart phones and tablet computers – especially when you’re in busy stores, malls and holiday spots. Don’t ever put any of the above on a store counter.

(2) Be careful about downloading holiday ringtones. Some are designed to infect your phones and computers.

PARTING ADVICE: This time of year – more than any other – makes you a prime target of criminals, especially in malls, airports, train terminals, and bus stops. Even though you are rushed and have plenty on your mind, be alert to your surroundings.

Send fanmail to john@featherman.com. Come visit him at www.featherman.com. Copyright© 2012 by John Featherman.

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