Be on guard when shopping online this Christmas, cyber safety experts warn

By Jamie Harris, PA Science Technology Reporter
·2-min read

Online Christmas shoppers are being warned of the threat posed by cyber criminals after victims lost an average of £775 each last year.

GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) is launching a government TV advertising campaign to make people aware of scammers lurking online during the festive period.

Attackers swindled an average of £775 per incident over Christmas 2019.

According to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, there were 17,405 reports of online shopping fraud between November 1 2019 and January 31 2020, resulting in a loss of £13.5 million.

  1. Use a strong and separate password for your email

  2. Create strong passwords using three random words

  3. Save your passwords in your browser

  4. Turn on two-factor authentication (2FA)

  5. Update your devices and apps

  6. Back up your data

Paymaster General Penny Mordaunt said: “This year we have spent more time online than ever before.

“Whether it be working or shopping online, criminals and others often see the internet as another means to cause harm.

“As we approach the Christmas season, we should all be on our guard and take the practical Cyber Aware actions to keep us safe as we work, shop and socialise online.”

A new NCSC website and television advertising campaign will remind people it is important to use a strong and separate password for their email.

They advise users to create strong passwords using three random words and to save passwords in their browser.

It is also recommends that two-factor authentication (2FA) be switched on, devices and apps are kept up to date, and data is backed up.

The campaign is backed by organisations including Microsoft, Vodafone, BT, ASOS, Barclays and Citizens Advice.

NCSC chief executive Lindy Cameron said: “Technology will play an essential role over the festive period, with more people shopping online than ever before.

“Scammers stole millions from internet shoppers last Christmas – but, by following our advice, you can protect yourself from the majority of their crimes.

“We hope the Cyber Aware campaign helps people to shop confidently online and enjoy their Christmas.”

NCSC’s Cyber Aware tips are:
– Use a strong and separate password for your email
– Create strong passwords using three random words
– Save your passwords in your browser
– Turn on two-factor authentication (2FA)
– Update your devices and apps
– Back up your data