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Security

How to stay safe online this Christmas


Christmas is a time of gift giving, spending time with your family and enjoying some well-earned rest. Don’t let identity theft or stolen funds ruin your Christmas plans. Find out how you and your family can stay safe online at this time of year and avoid the Christmas Grinch.

Shop online safely

Shopping online for Christmas presents is great; you can skip the queues, avoid pushy sales people and get all your presents sorted with the click of a button. However, Christmas is also a time when cybercriminals go to work. From fake retailer websites, bogus promotions, to shifty auctions or online classifieds, these criminals can be very clever in the methods they use to steal your identity, and your money. Here are a few things you can do to ensure your loved ones get the gifts you intended:

  • Only buy from reputable websites
  • Only use secure payments methods e.g. credit card. Don’t use wire or account transfers
  • Ensure you setup an account with the relevant shopping website so you can easily track or if needed, dispute a package if it doesn’t arrive.
  • Make sure your operating system and virus protection software is up to date
  • Maintain good password health i.e. use strong and unique passwords. This also means utilising two-factor authentication when possible.
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Avoid giving unwanted gifts to cybercriminals

With Christmas presents and cards being delivered left, right and centre it can be tough to keep track of it all. And this is what cybercriminals prey on. Online scams soar at this time of year, particularly those involving fake email gift certificates, e-cards, and parcel delivery notifications. If nanna sending you an e-card for Christmas is a touch out of the ordinary, it might be worth investigating before hitting download. 

Cybercriminals use legitimate-looking emails to convince you to hand over your details or download a file to redeem an offer. They can then steal your details or lock your computer with malicious software (malware) and hold it to ransom. Most reputable companies will never ask you to click on a link to update or capture details, this is one sign of a nefarious email. In addition, regular postal services never ask for money to hold onto parcels.

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Setup your new Christmas tech right

Getting a new laptop, smart phone or tablet PC for Christmas is great. Make sure you keep that shiny new device in tip-top shape. You can protect your new tech by:

  • Setting up a PIN or password
  • Ensure your device has the latest operating system installed (via settings on your device)
  • Install virus protection software
  • Enable any ‘find my device’ functionality, which can make it easier to track if it’s lost or stolen.

Now that you have your new shiny toy, what do you do with your old device? Make sure you erase any stored data and remove any storage cards or SIM before you sell, recycle or dispose of your old device.

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Stay safe online while on holidays

Heading overseas for your Christmas break? Or maybe down to the beach house? Letting your hair down over the Christmas is what the holiday period is all about. Sadly, cybercriminals can take advantage of your relaxed state – particularly if you’re in new surrounds. When you’re on holidays make sure you:

  • Use public Wi-Fi safely. Hotel and airport Wi-Fi hotspots are easy targets for criminals phishing out your details. Avoid accessing bank accounts and financial information when connected to a public network
  • Be selfie aware. That great beach selfie might make your friends jealous, but it can also let criminals know that you’re not at home
  • Look out for travel scams. If it sounds too good to be true it probably is 
  • Let your bank know of your travel plans.
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Know what to do if you’re the victim of the Christmas Grinch

If you’re the victim of the Christmas Grinch don’t feel helpless, because you’re not alone. According to Stay Smart Online, more scams were reported in December than any other month of the financial year. These Grinchy cybercriminals exploit the online Christmas cheer to steal identities and money through a variety of online methods, such as email, social networking and online forums. If you think you’ve been the victim of the Christmas Grinch you should:

  • Contact your bank or financial institution immediately (for Suncorp, call us on 13 11 55 or +61 7 3362 1712  from overseas)
  • Run or install virus protection software to detect if your computer has been compromised
  • Change your passwords. This can help limit the damage and prevent further breaches to your online security.
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