Cyber-attacks are poised to rise sharply this Christmas as criminals look to exploit a ‘perfect storm’ of circumstances, a leading expert has warned.
Matt Horan from C3IA Solutions, based in Poole, Dorset, says homes as well as businesses should be on their guard.
More internet-linked gadgets than ever before will be given as presents this year, and Covid fears will continue to be utilised by criminals.
With fewer people going away for holiday, and lockdowns meaning fewer homes will be empty for burglars to target, the thieves might change their modi operendi and target victims online instead.
Scams, phishing emails, smishing messages, fake websites and hacking into homes’ wf-fi and gadgets are all real and genuine threats.
With virtual assistance such as ‘Alexa’ remaining popular and also open to attack the festive season could be a bumper one for cyber criminals.
Matt said: “We have seen since the start of Covid that criminals have migrated online, partly because they and their traditional victims were in lockdown.
“With more people working from home it opened up extra opportunities for cyber criminals.
“They were also quick to play on peoples’ Covid fears by selling quack remedies and tests.
“These trends remain, but now Christmas in on the horizon and will present many further opportunities for crooks.
“Criminals will be working hard during the festive period to relieve you of your hard-earned money. But there are precautions you can take.
“When shopping online take time to check the website that you are visiting.
“Does it look correct? Is the grammar and spelling right? Is it a secure website with ‘https://’ at the address header? have you used it before?
“Watch out for emails arriving in your ‘inbox’ claiming to be from reputable retailers, offering you bargains and discounts that seem too good to be true.
“Rather than click on the link they send you, use a reputable search engine to find their website – the offer will still be there if it is genuine.
“Remember never to share any personal information with untrusted sites or individuals.
“Keep information on social media sites to a minimum, review your profile and remove any data that could be used to allow someone to impersonate you, such as your address and date of birth.
“Check photos you have posted and what is in the background – an image of your bankcard showing the long number or a calendar showing when you are likely to be away are things that can be exploited by criminals.
“When paying for gifts and presents on-line, set up additional security controls so that you receive notifications on your smart phone if you make a payment.
“That way if anyone has obtained your card details you will immediately know if it is being used.
“Ideally pay with a credit card and that way any fraudulent purchases should be able to be refunded.
“And when you receive internet-linked gadgets for Christmas – this year video door bells are popular – ensure you take precautions.
“It is possible to easily hack into these types of devices, which could cause huge harm.
“So secure you wi-fi network with a strong password and if you control gadgets with an app then make sure you have a different password for each one.
“Christmas should be a time of fun and happiness for the law abiding and not a time for cyber criminals to get fat.”