How to keep your personal information safe online during the holidays

WASHINGTON — As you travel or shop with your smartphone, tablet or laptop, make sure you’re not giving others a gift of your personal information.

This time of year can bring an increase in cyberthreats to your computerized devices, according to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

But, there are some things you can do to try to protect yourself.

Wi-Fi networks. While it’s tempting to use that open Wi-Fi network at the airport or coffee shop, that connection opens your smartphone, tablet or computer up to others who can access the information you are sending. So, if you must connect, avoid banking, online shopping or any personal activities. If you just have to make a purchase or check a bank account, use your cellular data instead of Wi-Fi.

Turn off Bluetooth. Hackers can link in to your phone’s open Bluetooth connection when you are not using it and steal personal information.

Charging stations. When you plug your USB cord into that charging station controlled by someone else, they may be able to link into your device.

Phishing scams. Want to open that holiday shopping email that just popped up? Think twice before you click. Plenty of stores are offering great deals, but plenty of phishing scams are also out there, just waiting for you to click through.

Software updates. If the vendor releases updates for the software operating your device, install them as soon as possible. Installing them will prevent attackers from being able to take advantage of known problems or vulnerabilities.

Use strong passwords. Select passwords that will be difficult for thieves to guess, and use different passwords for different programs and devices.

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