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/safechristmas
Fraudsters love the festive season, using the opportunity to send fake links in emails, texts and posts, or even email attachments posing as Christmas parcel delivery notifications. They could also call you claiming to be from your bank, a retailer, a delivery firm or software support company, but with one aim – stealing your money or identity. If in any doubt, always call the organisation on the number you know to be correct.
Phones, tablets & computers
Protect all new or second-hand internet-connected phones, tablets and computers with a reputable security app/software. Some suppliers offer a single solution that protects multiple devices. Add a PIN or passcode as soon as you power up. Ensure all devices are regularly backed up so you don’t lose your valuable documents and other files, or those precious photos.
Software, operating system and app updates
Download updates to operating systems, apps and software as soon as you’re notified that they’re available. If you don’t, you risk devices being infected by malware, and possible fraud or identity theft. Better still, set them to update automatically.
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.
Smart devices & wearables
To improve security, passwords on internet-connected devices like 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. Always use different passwords for different devices, websites or accounts to avoid them being hacked. Be careful what you say within hearing distance of voice assistants as you can’t be sure what conversations they’re picking up.
With new consoles and games coming out this year – and continued use of existing ones – remember to stay safe and secure, including avoiding oversharing, griefing, overspending on in-game properties and pirated games. Don’t lose track of how much time you’re spending online. Pass on this advice to your children too, including what interactions they’re having with strangers.
Second-hand mobile devices
If you’re selling or gifting a computer or mobile device, perform a factory reset to erase your data. You can find out how from the manufacturer’s website. 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.
Out & about with your mobile devices
Wi-Fi hotspots in cafés, pubs, hotel rooms, on public transport or other public areas may not be secure. They may also be fake, set up by a fraudster. For this reason, avoid connecting with them if you’re doing anything confidential online. Keep devices themselves protected from theft or loss. Be wary of people watching your screen over your shoulder.
Stop and ask yourself if what you’re about to share on social media is really necessary. Could it be helping a fraudster? Could it give your children a digital footprint they don’t want? Posting about being away could be telling a burglar that your home is empty. And why not take a few minutes over Christmas to review your privacy settings?
Help the children and young people in your life to protect themselves. Have the talk about safe and responsible internet use, including what they share, who they’re communicating with and the type of content they access, including apps and games. Consider downloading a respected parental control app and using ISP filters to block unsuitable content. Make sure your children aren’t running up bills for in-app or in-game purchases.
This year, many of us will be catching up via a video call. Apart from using a service that everyone finds easy to use, make sure it’s secure by choosing one that needs a strong password, and don’t share the call invitation or details outside the group on the call.