Information Security Office

Cyber Savvy @ UVM

Empowering the Catamount community with essential tips & tricks for secure digital communication

Safe Online Shopping: A UVM Guide for the Holiday Season

As the holiday season approaches, many of us at the University of Vermont will turn to online shopping for its convenience and variety. While e-commerce brings ease to our holiday preparations, it also poses unique cybersecurity risks. This guide is here to help you, whether you're a tech-savvy student, staff or faculty member, navigate online shopping safely.

Understanding the Risks: Online shopping can expose you to risks such as fraudulent websites, identity theft, and phishing scams. Cybercriminals often create convincing fake websites or send scam emails offering incredible deals to trick you into disclosing personal and financial information.

Tips for Safe Online Shopping:

Verify Website Uses Encryption: Always check the URL of the website. Look for 'https://' at the beginning of the web address and a padlock icon, indicating a secure connection.

Use Familiar Websites: Start at a trusted site rather than shopping with a search engine. Search results can lead you astray, especially if you drift past the first few pages.

Beware of Too-Good-To-Be-True Deals: If an offer looks too good to be true, it probably is. Be skeptical of extremely low prices and "limited time" offers.

Use Secure Payment Methods: Pay using secure payment methods like credit cards or well-known payment services. Avoid direct money transfers or wiring money.

Keep Your Devices Updated: Ensure your computer, smartphone, or tablet has the latest security updates and antivirus software.

Avoid Public Wi-Fi for Transactions: Public Wi-Fi networks are not secure for financial transactions. Wait until you can use a secure, private connection before purchasing.

Monitor Your Accounts: Regularly check your bank and credit card statements for any unauthorized charges. Follow up with your financial institution if you believe the charges or statements are inaccurate.

Strong Passwords and MFA: Use strong, unique passwords for your accounts and enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) where available.

Educate Yourself About Phishing Scams: Be aware of phishing tactics. No reputable company will ask for sensitive information via email.  Nobody should ask you to buy gift cards simply to get the codes.

Protect Your Personal Information: Be cautious about how much personal information you provide on shopping websites. Fill out only the mandatory fields at checkout.

Reporting Fraud: Your Action Matters

If you suspect or fall victim to online fraud, it's crucial to report it promptly. This not only helps in potentially recovering any losses but also aids in preventing others from being victimized. Here's how you can report:

UVM Police Services: If you believe the fraudulent activity is related to or has affected your work or study at UVM, immediately report it to the UVM Police Services. They can provide guidance and assistance. Contact them at UVM Police Services at 802-656-3473.

Vermont Office of the Attorney General: For broader concerns, especially those involving consumer fraud or identity theft, the Attorney General’s Office is a valuable resource. They offer guidance on the next steps and can take appropriate action. Visit their Consumer Protection page at Consumer Information | Office of the Vermont Attorney General.

Federal Trade Commission (FTC): The FTC also handles complaints about identity theft, scams, and fraudulent business practices. Filing a complaint can be done online at

Conclusion: In the digital realm, your caution is your best protection. By staying informed and vigilant, you can enjoy the convenience of online shopping without compromising your security. Let’s all commit to making our online shopping experiences at UVM safe and secure this holiday season.

Remember, cybersecurity is a shared responsibility – your actions can help keep not only you but also our entire UVM community safer.

Celebrating Cybersecurity Awareness Month at UVM!

October marks the annual Cybersecurity Awareness Month and here, at the University of Vermont, we're committed to fostering a safer digital environment for everyone. This event, championed by the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), emphasizes the collective responsibility we share in protecting our online spaces.
As you navigate the digital realm, whether for study, work, or leisure, remember these four essential tips:

  1. Stay Updated: Regularly update your software, apps, and devices. Cyber attackers often exploit known vulnerabilities, but updates can shield you from many common threats.

  2. Think Before You Click: Beware of unsolicited communications and never click on suspicious links or download dubious attachments. Phishing scams thrive on hasty decisions.  Report suspected scams and phishing to
  3. Protect Your Personal Info: Your personal data is valuable; guard it like treasure. Always use strong, unique passwords and avoid registering for non-University affiliated sites with your address.
  4. Enable Multi-factor Authentication (MFA): Using MFA adds a layer of security to all your transactions.  Financial, medical, and personal information are all worth a little extra effort to protect.

By implementing these steps, you're not only securing your own digital space but also contributing to a safer UVM community. More information can be found at CISA’s Cybersecurity Awareness month website