Shop safely and securely online this Christmas

With Christmas just around the corner and popular events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday imminent, shopping online has never been easier or as heavily promoted. In fact this year, more people than ever are expected to shop online.

Unfortunately Christmas is a busy time for hackers and scammers, as shoppers search for the best deals. These criminals are not going away and during a busy time such as Christmas they have a lot more credit cards and other personal information available to steal.

While you cannot eliminate this threat, you should take sensible steps to ensure you can to reduce the likelihood of becoming a cyber victim. We’ve rounded up a few hints and tips to help shoppers stay safe online during the festive season:

  • Credit cards are better than a debit cards when it comes to online shopping because they have spending limits. If the goods don’t show up or are faulty, and cost more than £100, Section 75 of the Consumer Rights Act means you can claim the money back. Paying by credit card can be convenient, but it also gives you added legal protection if the company you’re buying from goes into administration.
  • Only shop online via trusted sites with a HTTPS:// SSL Certificate. Check for ‘https’ at the start of the website URL. The ‘s’ stands for secure and look for a padlock on the left of the browser. The padlock icon doesn’t guarantee that the retailer itself is legitimate, but it at least means your connection to it is secure.
  • Cyber criminals create fake websites that look like an official retailer and then offer ‘unbelievable’ deals. It’s worth doing some research to check that they are legitimate.
  • At this time of year, retailers send lots of emails offering promotions and discounts. Beware of phishing emails from scammers. Many online shoppers are likely to click links promising fabulous deals without caring about their authenticity. When clicked the links can download malicious software or take you through to a fake website requesting personal details.
  • Be wary of social media adverts. Hacking is made even easier for criminals when people use the same passwords for Facebook and other accounts, as they automatically link. Cyber-criminals create attractive looking deals that you may well have seen, which they post on Facebook asking users to like and share to boost it to the top of news feeds and target a wider audience. Remember if it looks to good to be true, it probably is.
  • Only ever download mobile apps from the official app stores of the E-commerce retailer from Apple or Android. Are you downloading a new mobile app for coupons, deals or money off vouchers? If so, be careful! Fraudulent mobile apps can claim to be associated with ‘leading online retailers’. But are they?
  • Avoid online shopping using public Wi-Fi networks. Using public wireless networks for transactions or sending crucial information can make your computer or device prone to a major security threat.

Shop Safely! – what to do if you think you’ve been a victim of a scam

If  you think you’ve been a victim of scam and have already made payment, you need to act fast.

If you act fast and there are funds remaining in a cyber-criminal’s account, your bank may be able to recover this. You should also report it to the UK’s national fraud and cyber-crime reporting centre, Action Fraud.
More information can be found at https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/

If you see suspicious emails or websites that seem to ask for too much information (or seem to be too good to be true), then you should report the potential phishing emails or scam sites to the Suspicious Email Reporting Service at the National Cyber Security Centre. Since launching earlier in 2020 the Suspicious Email Reporting Service has resulted in over 2 million reports of suspicious emails and websites which has subsequently led to thousands of malicious sites being taken down.

More tips on how to protect yourself online can be found by visiting the Government’s Cyber Aware website, with guidance on how to protect against the majority of common cyber threats.

Useful external web sites offering excellent cyber security advice:

National Cyber Security Centre. https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/guidance/shopping-online-securely

Action Fraud: https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/

Get Safe Online: https://www.getsafeonline.org/

If you run a business…

Cyber risks are an exposure that no modern business can escape.

If your business doesn’t already have cyber insurance then you are potentially exposed to huge financial losses that can be incurred when your IT system comes under attack. This can lead to costs from handling a data breach, lost revenue, a damaged reputation, legal and regulatory costs, not to mention the disruption to your business.

We work with insurers who have access to cyber breach specialists, able to assess systems, identify the source of any breach and put in place future preventative measures.

For more information about the different cyber insurance covers available please click here or contact a Real Insurance specialist on 0330 058 0260 who can provide a tailored quotation specific to the needs of your business.

Wishing you a safe and happy Christmas shopping period.