Number 12 of the Scams of Christmas: Soggy Security

Protect Yourself from Holiday Hackers with Software Updates/ 12 Scams of Christmas: Soggy Security

Criminal Element's counting down 12 scams of Christmas, beginning with an issue that can open every electronic device to hackers: soggy security. 'Tis the season for good little hackers and scammers everywhere to infect your computer with presents worse than coal in your stocking.

Think of software updates as being like wool socks. Maybe you didn’t like the socks your aunt gave you last year, but you still accepted them with thanks. At least, that’s what you should have done. It’s the same thing you should do with software updates. Complaints such as “it takes too long,” “there are too many clicks,” or even, “I’ll have to reboot,” can make your electronic device as unhappy as Aunt Phoebe if you’d said, “These socks are scratchy.”

Adobe Flash is a good example of what feels like update overload. On November 25th, Adobe released its 14th Flash update of 2014 and a critical one (hat tip: jbgnews). Tedious as it might have been, installing all fourteen of those Adobe updates as they came out would have kept a computer from becoming infected when hackers placed malicious ads on popular websites such as TMZ and Photobucket. That one lapse in security resulted in millions of infected computers.

Here are three tips to help keep your holidays merry and bright while making sure your electronic pals run smoothly and your Aunt Phoebe doesn’t cut you out of the will.

1) If an update is issued for your device, install it.

2) Only download apps, software, and updates from reputable sources.

3) Ensure that a website has a good reputation by using a service such as Web of Trust. This is a free online service that lets site visitors rate each website they visit. It’s very slick, doesn’t slow down your browser, and could save you from making a costly mistake on a website that looks, but is not, legitimate.

Stay tuned for No. 11: The Mystery Shopper Scam.

Image via Mr. Fleming's first grade e-lves.

Terry Ambrose writes the McKenna mystery series set in Hawaii. They're filled with snark, scams, and trouble in paradise.


  1. Lorna Collins

    Good advice. But I downloaded the Adobe Flash Player update directly from the Adobe site–and I still got spyware! You also have to watch out for the MANY unwanted additional programs bundled with the update! NO, I don’t want anything else form McAfee or anyone else! But the choice is not opt In but opt OUT. If you miss one of these checks, you’ve got it. And it’s often a horrible process to get rid of it. I don’t know what the solution is, but Adobe doesn’t help!

  2. Terry Ambrose

    Hi Lorna—you’re right about McAfee bundling programs. Unfortunately, the software vendors are pushing their own products and that puts them on a fine line, too. I agree that we definitely have to watch what we’re downloading no matter where it’s from.

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