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What connections will you make this Christmas?

Christmas is all about connecting, whether it’s spending quality time with friends and family … or simply taking time out to re-connect with yourself.

But in many ways, it’s about connecting online too. Keeping in touch, downloading a movie, buying that special gift (or treating yourself), using those new devices and helping your kids get online.

However busy you are or how much fun you’re having, don’t forget online safety and security. We’ve put together some expert tips to help you.

Phones, tablets & computers

New or pre-owned internet-connected devices – including Apple phones, tablets and computers – should be protected with a security app/software and a PIN or passcode as soon as you switch them on. Ensure all devices are regularly backed up to safeguard your valuable documents, photos and other files.

Updates

Download updates to operating systems, apps and software as soon as you receive a prompt. If you don’t, you could leave yourself open to malware.

Apps

Download apps only from official sources such as App Store, Google Play or Microsoft Store. Apps from unofficial sources could result in fraud or identity theft.

Connected devices & wearables

To improve security, the passwords on connected devices such as voice assistants, CCTV cameras, appliances, kids’ toys and fitness watches should be changed from the factory default as soon as you unpack and switch them on. The same applies to phones and tablets. Don’t use the same password for more than one device, website or account. And be careful what you say within earshot of that voice assistant, you can’t be sure who might be listening.

Second-hand mobile devices

If you’ve bought or been given a pre-owned device, remove the previous owner’s settings and data, if this hasn’t already been done. If you’re selling, carry out a reset to prevent others seeing your data. You can find out how from the manufacturer’s website.

Out & about with your mobile devices

Don’t use Wi-Fi hotspots in cafes, pubs, hotel rooms, public transport or other public areas if you’re doing anything confidential online. You simply can’t assume they’re secure ... or legitimate. Keep the devices themselves secure as they can make attractive targets for thieves. Be wary of people watching your screen over your shoulder.

Don’t overshare

Consider if what you’re posting on social media is really necessary, whether it could be helping a fraudster or giving your kids and friends a digital footprint they don’t want. Posting that your family is at relatives or on holiday is a big clue for burglars that your home is empty. Take a few minutes out over the Christmas break to update your social media privacy settings.

Children & young people

Help the kids and young people in your life stay safe. Sit down and speak to them about safe and responsible use of the internet, including what they share, who they’re communicating with and what content they’re accessing – including apps and games. Consider downloading a respected parental control app and using ISP filters to block unsuitable content. Make sure bills aren’t being run up for in-game purchases.

Shopping online

Make sure you can spot the difference between genuine and fake websites, secure and insecure payment pages and authentic and counterfeit goods. You can find more information at www.getsafeonline.org/safechristmasshopping

Scams

Christmas is a favourite time of year for fraudsters. Clicking on email attachments or links in unexpected emails, text messages and posts could result in being defrauded, having your identity stolen or your device infected with malware. Unexpected phone calls claiming to be from banks, retailers, parcel firms or software support companies should be treated with caution. If in any doubt, always call the organisation on the number you know to be correct.

#connectedchristmas