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Cyber Security at Christmas Time

Ensuring that you remain on your guard against Phishing emails and other forms of scams, is an all year-round activity, but it is especially pertinent during the festive season.

This time of year is open season for criminals who take advantage of unsuspecting individuals and businesses whose employees are not savvy to cyber threats that are constantly out there.

UK spending at Christmas time runs into the tens of billions. To make the task of finding and purchasing the perfect presents for our loved ones easier, and then having them delivered straight to our doors, online shopping has become an increasing contributor, to the huge spend.

To fight for our on-line attention at a time when emotions are high, we are bombarded with cheap offers, requests for donations, eChristmas cards, invitations to events and greetings messages. It’s a perfect time for scammers and fraudsters to come up with ingenious ways to trick us into clicking on something we didn’t wish for at Christmas.

Being extra vigilant and cyber aware will help to protect yourself and your business.

Watch out for:

Charity Phishing – The scammers are very aware that many of us like to make a contribution at Christmas time to those less fortunate. They send fake emails which look as though they come from widely recognised charities.

Avoid replying to the requests to send money by reply. Instead visit the charities website and make a contribution directly through their website to ensure that neither you or the charity are being defrauded.

Delivery emails – This is such an easy one to miss, especially as so many online deliveries are sent with advance notifications of delivery date and tracking updates. It is easy for scammers to download malware from bogus couriers. Keep the original purchase and delivery confirmation emails to refer back to. Or check that subsequent delivery emails come from a recognised courier.

Online shops – These are websites set up by scammers with the purpose to prey on people looking for a bargain and not too bothered how they get it. The websites are generally poorly designed with little in the way that conveys they are legitimate. Checking for contact details and phone numbers is one way you to decide if you should part with your money.

E Vouchers – Again a very simple technique offering free vouchers from well-known brands. Once you’ve clicked and your details are downloaded, the scammers have all they want. You can spot these as often spelling is incorrect or the voucher just doesn’t look like it comes from the major brand. Double check that the voucher is genuine by going directly to the brands website.

Social Media – It’s not just to your inbox, the scammers will use all forms of social media to trick you into giving them your details. You may receive a link from a friend or family member who has fallen for the scam. Ask yourself why they would be sending you a link to this ‘bargain’. If it’s suspicious delete and report to the platform.

• Beware of mobile threats – Texts to Smartphones is an easy way to target people with links to a ‘bargain’ or ‘offer’ on a spurious social media site or website.

Christmas is a time to enjoy and relax a little, but always keep your eyes open for what really doesn’t seem right. If it looks too good to be true, then the likelihood it is. Chances are you’ll end up being worse off with another unwanted gift from Santa.

If you unwittingly get caught, get in touch and we’ll endeavour to unwrap the problem.