Christmas may be the season of giving, but one thing you certainly don’t want to do is provide a hacker your personal details or money. To this end, Sky News brought two cybercrime experts together to advise online shoppers of how to be savvy when buying their gifts this year.
Mike McLellan of Secureworks and Chris Bluvshtein from VPNOverview set out three main ways that shoppers could better protect themselves over the weeks ahead.
The first was to be suspicious of deals that come in via email – especially if they appear too good to be true.
Hackers can design emails in such a way that they look remarkably like the legitimate businesses they claim to be from. However, there are often ways to see through the scam, provided you know where to look.
The biggest giveaway is the email address of the sender. Anything that doesn’t look right should start ringing alarm bells. But be careful, as hackers can use formatting (such as @amaz0n.com) to make it look legitimate at a glance.
As always, it’s always worth going directly to the website via search or typing in the URL directly, rather than following any links in emails.
Second was the issue of secure websites. All legitimate retailers will now have https certification – either check for this at the start of the URL or look for the padlock icon in your browser. If these are missing, don’t hand over any personal details as it’s almost certain to be a fake site.
Finally, shoppers should be wary of SMS scams reporting a failed delivery. These have been prominent in recent years but really come into the fore around Christmastime when shoppers are more likely to be awaiting deliveries.
Again, the key to determining whether this is real or fake is to look at the link the text message is encouraging you to click. Does it look like it would really come from the company in question? If it’s a Bitly or other link shortener then disregard the message immediately – and ideally block the sender.
For anyone worried they might have been scammed, McLellan had this advice: “Keep an eye on bank accounts and if you see anything unusual, get in touch with them. Banks have got very robust fraud controls these days – and that’s why it’s best to use credit cards if possible.
“If you think any of your online accounts have been compromised, change the password, and try not to reuse them across different retailers.”