Staying Cyber-Safe this Christmas

The festive season sees a huge increase in internet usage…

…Christmas dinner ingredients can now be ordered and delivered to your door, boxing-day sales can be perused without leaving the house and unwanted gifts can be returned without anyone ever knowing!

It’s therefore no surprise that this time of year also sees a surge in online criminal activity. For this reason, it’s essential to stay cyber-smart over Christmas. Trust us when we say that a scam is the last thing you want over the festive season.

Safeguarding you and your data is a lot easier than you would think, to give you a nudge in the right direction we’ve compiled a list of tips to help keep you cyber-safe this Christmas.

Keep it secure

Always check a page is secure before entering personal or banking details.

The easiest way to do this is to check for a SSL Certificate. For a company to have a SSL Certificate it must have gone through a ‘validation process’ – ensuring all data entered on the site is safe and secure.

Checking for a SSL Certificate is simple, just look at the beginning of the site’s web address (URL). If it reads ‘https’ rather than ‘http’ it is secure. Most browsers will also display a little green padlock as a visual clue that the site is secure – easy.


The right destination

While you’re looking up at the URL, make sure you’re going to the destination that you expect. A sneaky attack vector is a re-direct you to a web site under the criminal’s control. For example, you may think you’re visiting but actually, you’re going to www.acme.corn. The ‘.com’ at the end has been replaced with ‘.corn’ (c o r n) where the ‘r’ & ‘n’ run close together to look like an ‘m’. This kind of character substitution is common and is sometimes very hard to spot, so keep your eyes peeled.


Counterfeit products

Could the deal you’ve found on that designer watch be too good to be true? Think about it, if a bargain seems like too fantastic an offer, there’s a chance the product your considering could be fake or stolen.


Gift cards

Only ever purchase gift cards from trusted sources or in-store, if something seems dodgy look at some reviews from other customers.


Scam emails

With most companies sending mass-mailshots over Christmas it can be challenging to detect the legitimate e-cards from the scams. Always check the email address from the sender – how authentic does it sound? If you don’t recognise the name or the sender comes from a completely different domain, it’s probably best to ignore it. Major hotels and other global brands won’t be sending you emails from a Hotmail account.

Airline scams

We all love a good holiday deal after the Christmas period, there’s nothing better than having a week in the sun to look forward to.

If you’re lucky, a travel scam will only result in hidden costs. In a worst-case scenario, a holiday will be paid for that doesn’t even exist. Always stick to legitimate travel websites, read trusted reviews and if a deal sounds too good to be true – it probably is.


Christmas viruses

We recommend using anti-virus software all year round, but especially during Christmas. Make sure you have it in place and up-to-date before the festivities begin.


It sounds obvious, but keep your passwords secure. Avoid the ‘remember my password’ option on social media, email logins, etc., especially on shared public computers such as in airport lounges. Never share your passwords and do your very best to have different passwords for different things – never use the same password for everything you do online. There are some great password management tools like ‘LastPass’ and ‘1Password’ that make managing the increasingly large number passwords we all need, much easier.


First Response would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your custom during 2017. We hope you have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy & Secure New Year!

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