As the festive period draws closer, the longer our Christmas shopping lists seem to become. With over 90% of us doing some kind of online shopping this Christmas, retailers have started to promote their best deals in November. The run up to Black Friday on 25th November is when retailers start promotions and is the busiest online shopping day of the year, with last year pulling in £1bn of sales in one day.
This year is expected to be no different – and as we all take advantage of the great deals, we also need to be super vigilant when shopping online. Criminals are active all year round but the Christmas shopping season is when they really come into force to try and scam us.
So what can we do to shop safe this Christmas? Here are some top tips from F-Secure our online security experts:
1.Be careful where you click and what emails you open
The first place criminals tend to go is your email inbox so this where you need to be super vigilant. Criminals main aim is to entice you to click on a link by sending you an email with an amazing offer in it. It could even look like a retailer you know. Once clicked, malware could be downloaded onto your device. Without you knowing, you'll continue to shop online and use your credit card and passwords to access your accounts and the malware will be logging this information and sending it to the criminal. This is just one type of malware criminals use.
Solution? Install reputable online security such as TalkTalk's SuperSafe. It will protect you even if you click on a dodgy link in an email or online and won't let criminals access your bank details or passwords.
2. Look for https and the padlock in the browser. This is a useful icon to look out for as it tells you that site is secure. A legitimate site will have a web address beginning with https (instead of just http) and will show a padlock in the address bar too. If it doesn't have these, get out of there!
3.Set up a dedicated, separate and up-to-date browser for conducting financial transactions like shopping and banking. It doesn't matter if you are using Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Safari or Mozilla. Just make sure you use one for transactions and a different one for things like social media, games and general web surfing.
4. Disable Java. Few people really need Java on their PCs or laptops, so if you do have it and don't know why, the likelihood is that you don't need it either! Uninstall it. If you do need it to access a particular website, do this in a separate browser.
5. Auto-update Adobe Flash. Time to update Adobe Flash if you use it. So if you do, do it now. This is the minimum precaution F-Secure's security advisor, Sean Sullivan recommends. This will make sure you're getting all the updates and will prevent you, hopefully, from being tricked into downloading malware posing as an update. So turn those "background upgrades" on.
If there is one thing you do before you start your online shopping this Christmas it's to install proper online security. Without it you leave yourself open to a whole host of scams and threats. To give you and your family peace of mind to shop and browse safely from your mobiles, tablets and computers, add SuperSafe in My Account for only £2 a month. (It's got Best Protection four years running and just received 4.5 stars from PC Mag.) You will receive an email from F-Secure to click to install, and before you can say "Jingle Bells" you'll be protected and safe to shop online to your heart's content.