Tips to know before shopping online ahead of Cyber Monday

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - There's already a lot to think about and even be wary of when it comes to simply being on the internet, but those things become that much more important during high-volume and high-traffic shopping periods. If you're shopping online, particularly in the coming few days, you're likely at risk for being targeted by cybercriminals.

"The cyberthreats are actually people targeting individuals, because it's human behavior that lets them in," said Heather Cavanaugh of Alaska Communications. "So they're really targeting individual people."

So what are some of the basics that you need to know? We asked cybersecurity experts in Alaska to find out. The consensus — protect yourself as best you can.

Easier said than done, though, but it is possible. Security settings should be adjusted on your phone, tablet, computer, and even home wireless router.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

- Make sure you're only using up-to-date software, including operating systems, antivirus programs and browsers
- Use complex passwords that have several letters and don't utilize dictionary words
- Change passwords often, switch them up, and don't store a list of them on your computer
- Monitor bank and credit card statements and reports, as well as any bills, closely

Beyond that, gifts themselves can pose a threat. So-called 'smart toys' might be doing more than you think. One of them, for example - a doll called My Friend Kayla - was reportedly collecting data from its users, which are primarily young and unsuspecting children.

"A stranger could actually spy on your kid, listen to your kid, even talk to your kid," said Mike Litt of the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.

As connectivity grows, so do the risks, but before you go shopping this holiday season, consider how cybersecure you are. You might just save yourself from a huge holiday headache.

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