Christmas is around the corner and with it comes the usual round of parties and celebrations. This means that our spare time is taken up more than usual, which has an effect on how we complete our gift shopping. The easiest way around this for most is to take to the Internet, avoiding the queues and stress of the stores, in search of those last minute presents.

However, the speed and efficiency of online shopping isn’t the only thing we may experience as this time of year is prime season for cybercriminals and scams, owing to the sheer quantity of activity taking place online. For this reason, we’ve got some tips to help you avoid any nasty surprises.

Also, because taking precautions shouldn’t just be confined to December, nor to online shopping, we’ve filled out the following list of recommendations with some tips regarding how to stay safe when using some of the new technology you might find under the tree this year.

10 tips to avoid unwanted surprises this Christmas

1. Be wary of your cards

Services like PayPal are highly recommended as they encrypt all transfers. If you use them in conjunction with a credit card, you will double your protection if you add in the antifraud used by banks. Anyway, if you only use a credit card, be sure to use just one so as to minimize any potential risks.

2. Pay attention to your browser

Despite always being advisable to surf on secure websites, it is even more important at this time of the year. Only make purchases on known platforms that use authorization services to complete transactions.


3. Manage your passwords

Make sure that your passwords are secure. During the days leading up to Black Friday, many Amazon users received emails that advised them that their passwords has been reset because someone has tried to access their accounts.

4. Bargains and scams

Don’t trust emails that arrive in your inbox claiming to offer you discounts and deals, especially if they come from unknown sources. The links might direct you towards fraudulent pages where a malware could install itself on your computer.

5. Games and privacy

Recently, a group of cybercriminals hacked the servers of VTech, a manufacturers of electronic games such as tablets, computers, and dolls). They stole information belonging to five million customers, including photographs of minors. Although the company assures us that the theft hasn’t affected credit card details, the hack serves as a reminder that we should be careful with information that kids and parents share on technological devices.

6. Drones

These remote controlled flying machines are all the rage at the moment and there’s a high chance of one being under the tree in your home. Where you give or receive one, keep in mind that just like any other electronic device, they too can be at risk. They are easily manipulated, which can cause them to veer off course, so it’s best to use them in places where there is no risk to third-parties.

7. Watch out when using public Wi-Fi

Don’t fall for the temptation to purchase online when you’re connected to public Wi-Fi. Avoid carrying out anything related to your bank as your device won’t be protected against any attacks – cybercriminals can follow your steps on the network and spy on communications carried out on different pages.


8. Time to take precautions

Smartwatches are another present that many of us will give or get this Christmas. The sensors that are built into them obtain user information which most of the time is stored on the cloud, not to mention the separate information that the applications store. Make sure that the model that you have allows you to block the screen, be sure to choose good passwords, and inform yourself of encryption measures that the brand uses.

9. Keep your receipts

Once you’ve completed a purchase, save the receipts and proofs of purchase just in case there is a problem down the line. Also, take a look at your bank statement every so often to ensure that there are no unauthorized movements being carried out.

10. Information and wearables

There’s no better gift for a runner than a device that measures their physical activity and health at the same time. Bracelets such as trackers store a huge amount of information and share them with different applications. As a security measure, keep an eye on the passwords for your accounts, deactivate Bluetooth when you don’t need it, be care with what your share on social media, and read the terms and conditions of the apps that are linked to the device.