It’s now November, and that means that the Holiday shopping season is already beginning. With more and more shoppers turning to e-commerce sites to make their purchases, it’s increasingly important to understand how cybersecurity comes into play when executing these transactions and how to best protect yourself. Today we’re partnering with the server hosting company SingleHop to help give you a rundown of some cybersecurity tips.

Although it might seem like your computer is just one out of billions in the world, hackers are always looking for new prey. They even have machines probing the Internet continually looking for vulnerabilities. You might think that you don’t have anything of interest to a cybercriminal on your computer, but even small amounts of data can be helpful when trying to hack accounts. Think about things like your parents’ or friends’ names, past schools you’ve attended, or even passwords or financial information saved on your device. These are just a few examples of information that could be vital to a hacker’s attempt to access your private accounts.

Although advertised as an effective way to protect your system from threats, firewalls and antivirus software aren’t completely sufficient for protecting your precious data. These programs are only trained to protect against known threats, meaning that any new viruses or malware may still find their way onto your system. To help prevent attacks, it is best to update your security software as often as possible, and never skip an update once you know it exists.

For these reasons, you must be mindful of what you store on your system or in the cloud. Much of this information can still be accessed by hackers, even after it has been deleted. The same goes for online profiles and websites — although you may have deleted something from your page, it most likely still exists on that site’s dedicated server. And that means that you no longer have control of it once it is placed in that company’s hands. Long story short, always is cautious of who you are providing information to, and where you are storing it so that it has less of a chance of being compromised in the event of a cyber attack.

One way to be sure that you are protected is to verify that any websites you use are using a securely dedicated server provider. Many of these hosting companies advertise which brands they host on their website, and conversely, many brands will volunteer this information as well (look for something that states “Hosted by XYZHostingBrand” or “Powered by XYZServers” on their site). If you’re still in doubt, try contacting customer service so that you can research what kinds of security measures are in place to protect customers’ information when it is transmitted online.

It’s important to be sure that you are taking the proper precautions before entering any precious data online, such as credit card numbers, financial information or other identifying details. This includes on e-commerce sites that you may trust. Just take Target for example– up until this year, they were a very reputable online shopping site, but most likely will suffer due to their widespread security breach. When in doubt, see if you can pay via check or money order, or go to the retailer in person and pay with cash. You can never be too careful with your online data — your information could be the best Holiday present that hacker has ever received.