Courtesy of TNS

Courtesy of TNS

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday coming up, extra security measures are important to prevent hackers from stealing personal information, a spokeswoman from the Office of the Chief Information Officer said.

Meanwhile, one study found that data breaches are on the rise and organizations are unprepared to detect them. The study, done by the Ponemon Institute in 2013, found that data breaches increased in both severity and frequency last year.

The study found that downtime for an online retailer during Cyber Monday could cost as much as $3.4 million in lost sales and brand and reputation damage.

Students should take precautions at all times of the year, but the holidays are a good time for reminders, said Katharine Keune, a spokeswoman for the Office of Chief Information Officer.

For online shopping, she said students should be careful about what wireless networks they use.

“All wireless networks are not configured and operated as securely as OSU’s,” Keune said in an email. “Free networks that restaurants and coffee shops provide are generally not encrypted,”

Encrypted wireless is generally more secure, she added.

Keune also said when shopping online, it’s important to ensure devices undergo regular security updates and to make online purchases from mainstream online stores.

Mainstream stores are more likely to have a professional security staffs which means better protection. Keune said there are many sites waiting to prey on naïve users.

The Identity Theft Assistance — an organization that provides assistance to victims of fraud — suggests using credit cards instead of debit cards when shopping, according to its website. Credit cards don’t protect you from getting hacked, but they have a number of features that make getting money back much easier. Debit cards are linked to real checking accounts, and are more difficult to get refunded, while credit card issuers are required by law to cover your losses if they exceed $50.

Credit card hacking has become a growing concern. In the past year, cyber-attacks have hit retailers including Target, Home Depot and Jimmy John’s.

Some students have learned the hard way to be more careful with their credit and debit cards.

Svetlana Kravtsova, a third-year in neuroscience, said she lost her debit card two years ago.

“I left my debit card on the top of my car at a gas station and drove away,” she said.

Although she canceled the card before anyone could use it, she said the incident made her keep track of her cards more. She said she plans to go Black Friday shopping with her mom, but they have a shopping system.

“After each time we check out, I look back to make sure my mom didn’t leave anything behind,” she said.

Trevor Kirkpatrick, a third-year in animal sciences, said he’s never experienced his credit or debit card being stolen, but knows others who have been affected.

“I know somebody who had $17,000 stripped out from California and it was kind of a freak deal. They had fraud protection so they ended up being good, but that led me to back up everything,” he said. The victim of the credit card fraud was a friend’s dad who lives in Ohio, Kirkpatrick said.

He also said he has a few ways he protects himself from fraud.

“My mom always told me when you go to restaurants to pay you lay your card face down, because anyone could write your card numbers down. I also like putting in my pin because it makes me feel safer,” he said.

As far as concern for Black Friday, he said he thinks crime has become a “two way street.”

“I think criminals are getting smarter, but also there’s more cyber protection,” he said.